There Are Superheroes Among Us
by Amy Lignor
This story truly proves that a superhero does not require a cape, tights, or the ability to fly. In a world where all headlines seem to be centered around who shot who, who is being put upon, who’s “getting away with it” – all the way to who is getting divorced and who may or may not be kneeling at NFL games – negative stories seem to be the only ones covered anymore by the media. Does the American populace need to know the news? Absolutely. But when it came to a recent sports event, people were also allowed to witness (finally) a story that was all about love, kindness, and friendship. Positive with a capital ‘P’. And with all the negative of late, this insertion of positive surprised the heck out of people.
Two boys – brothers, named Jonny and Alistair Brownlee – competed in the World Triathlon Series finale in Cozumel. Now everyone knows that triathlons are not for the faint-hearted. You have to work your tail off to compete, and sometimes get to the point where many watching the event truly believe you will not be able to make it through the entire thing.
Now Jonny Brownlee, one of the brothers, was most definitely going to win and claim that world title all for himself. A stellar athlete, he began the final kilometer of the 10 kilometer race. The Mexican heat, however, and the extreme battle of a triathlon got to him. He began to weave a bit on the course, and many onlookers tried not to gasp as they watched this man who looked like he was going to pass out under the relentless sun.
It got worse as another athlete passed him by. But then Alistair Brownlee, who was running in third, saw his brother’s anguish and stopped. He literally gave up his chance at coming in second and/or speeding up and taking over first place to win it all. Instead, Alistair decided to be a brother – looking far more like a superhero – put his arm around Jonny and almost carried him to the finish line. But his superhero status did not stop there.
Just as they were about to cross, he pushed Jonny over the line ahead of him so his brother could claim second place. The Olympic silver medalist, Jonny, was so full of gratitude for what his brother had done for him. After regaining his strength, he stated: “I know Alistair is a competitor and he would have wanted to win that race, but he threw that away to help me out. Obviously it takes a very strong and good person to do that.”
Alistair remarked that although it was certainly a natural reaction to help his brother, he would have saved anyone in that position because it’s an awful position to be in. Being that it was his brother, they can now tease each other a bit as they come to realize that they did not have to win the race to become the center of attention.
We were all raised on “winning being the most important thing” when it comes to competition. You work, you sweat, and you strive to be the best of the best. But the Brownlee brothers showed the world that winning is definitely not the most important thing when someone else needs help. Being that ultimate superhero – people who still populate this earth yet may not be seen in the headlines for all the good work they’re doing – is what really counts.
As always someone had to be negative, but an appeal made by the Spanish Triathlon Federation to actually disqualify Jonny Brownlee for accepting assistance to get over the line was, thankfully, dismissed by the International Triathlon Union. The ITU cited a rule which states athletes may accept help.
The winner and newly-crowned champion admitted that the drama did take some “shine” off his victory, but also went on to state that even though the end was not how he wanted it to be, “that’s triathlon.”
Well, I think we can all agree that whether this had been football, baseball, basketball…heck, take your pick, this is one ending that brought people to their feet as they found themselves realizing…superheroes indeed walk among us.