When the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast end, one moment in the track and field will still be talked about for years to come, not because anyone was the fastest, but rather, the most gracious.
It came at the conclusion of the women’s 10,000 metres final at Carrara Stadium on Monday night.
The moment was reminiscent of 62 years ago, when distance runner John Landy stopped and doubled back to check on his fallen compatriot Ron Clarke during the 1956 Australian National Championships. Landy then went on a remarkable victory.
This time, three Australian runners, Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills, Eloise Wellings, waited on the track for more five minutes after their gruelling race to cheer on the final runner, Lineo Chaka, from Lesotho.
They embodied Gold Coast’s claim of being the friendly games.
Chaka, 30, was two laps behind the winner, Uganda’s Stella Chesang, who took gold in her first attempt at the distance.
Celia Sullohern ran a new personal best of 31.50.75. She was in fourth place with half a lap to go before finishing sixth, 5 seconds behind Chesang, with Hills eighth and Wellings 16th.
Chaka was pushed to her limits and left alone on the track after the second last runner, Beth Potter of Scotland, finished more than three minutes ahead of her.
But she wasn’t alone as the three Australian remained on the track to clap her effort and shake her hand and embrace when Chaka finally crossed the finish line as the crowd cheered her home too.
You don't get medals for sportsmanship but this is what it's all about.
— 7CommGames (@7CommGames) April 9, 2018
Games chairman Peter Beattie hailed it as “true Aussie sportsmanship” and their solidarity has been widely praised.
This is why we call it the #FriendlyGames. Australia's runners ???????? at the finish line waiting for Lesotho's Lineo Chaka ???????? to finish the #GC2018Athletics 10,000 metre final. It’s not all about medals at #GC2018 – it's about the spirit of the games #ShareTheDream #GetActive pic.twitter.com/hsfDn3ZTVE
— Senator Bridget McKenzie (@senbmckenzie) April 9, 2018
After the race Sullohern said support was what made the Australian trio so strong.
“We’re there for each other and we’re all out there having a go,” she said.
“It was lovely to stand there and show what I hope was a bit of Aussie sportsmanship.”
Hills, who was fourth in Glasgow four years ago in the 3000 metres steeplechase, and normally competes in the 5000m, said it can be tough some days and that’s why they wanted to show support for Chaka.
“All of us just went out there hoping to do the best we could on the day, and sometimes that’s 31 minutes and sometimes that’s 35 minutes,” she said.
“I’d like to think if I had that day there would be someone standing on the track for me.”
Sportsmanship at its best ????????#TeamAUS 10,000m trio Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills and Eloise Wellings waited at the finish line to congratulate every athlete upon finishing the race.#GreaterTogether pic.twitter.com/89omgjBVJs
— Comm Games AUS (@CommGamesAUS) April 9, 2018
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