Can you add your actions to the list of greatest sportsmanship moments?

Our Australian BMX community has always prided itself in being friendly and open to all those eager to get involved. We love celebrating and sharing the success and achievements of our fellow riders.

Widely recognised, sportsmanship and respect for one another capitalises a day on the track and assists new members to join the fray. All too frequently, positive examples of sportsmanship are seen at BMX events, and it’s something that our riders can be proud of.

Before and after races, you will see riders high fiving, shaking hands with one another and giving encouraging slaps on the back. Most importantly, sportsmanship promotes social connection away from the track, and long-term friendships.

The exchanging of jerseys is a well seen act throughout all of the major sporting events around the world. At the UCI BMX World Championships, like at events such as the FIFA World Cup, riders share jerseys as a memento of their time on the big track, racing competitors from across the globe. It’s a special occasion that creates lifelong memories.

These acts of sportsmanship are one of the essential components of why sport is instrumental to having a happy and healthy lifestyle. Not only does it provide individuals the ability to have direction and excitement, but it teaches the importance of humility, respect and above all the opportunity to make life lasting friendships and happiness.

The Play by the Rules article below titled, Great moments in Olympic sportsmanship’ expresses the unbelievable attitude and respect shown at the highest level. With their career dreams within sight, the ability to forgive, forget and move on is an incredibly humbling read.

If you’re on or around the track throughout the 2018 BMXA National Championships, National Series or other club events, try and replicate the notable displays of sportsmanship which have been performed by these incredible athletes. Enjoy!

Great moments in Olympic sportsmanship

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have certainly produced some amazing performances over the years, but here at Play by the Rules we’re more interested in those moments of great sportsmanship that typify what the games are all about . . . the triumph of the human spirit.

With a long, rich history to choose from following are a few notable examples. Can you think of others?

Lutz Long, German long jumper

At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Lutz Long set an Olympic record during the heats to qualify for the finals. American Jesse Owens fouled on his first and second jumps and faced disqualification if he fouled a third time. Long, a German, advised Owens to adjust his take-off point to several inches behind the foul line to ensure that he would advance to the next round. Owens took Long’s advice, qualified for the finals, set a new world record and won the gold medal. Long came second. “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens later said.

Even rivals and opponents on and off the track can provide advice and guidance to their fellow competitors to encourage all to be racing at their best. Not only does it encourage friendships, but it also tests your skills further and makes an all-round better BMX race for all.

Shawn Crawford, American sprinter

American sprinter Shawn Crawford won the gold medal in the 200m at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Racing four years later in Beijing, he finished in fourth place but was awarded the silver medal when the athletes in second and third place were disqualified. The original second-placed runner, Churandy Martina from Netherlands Antilles, received a package eight days later containing Crawford’s silver medal. “He told me he didn’t feel good that it was his medal,” said Martina. “He said he doesn’t deserve it.”

Being humble throughout your sporting life will encourage and promote you to live your life in a guilt free world.

John Landy, Australian distance runner

Yes, we know. This is not strictly an Olympic story but it was so gracious and amazing that it deserves to be included. Plus, it was the Australian National Championships ahead of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games so . . . close enough!

Australian distance runner John Landy, the second man to run a mile in under four minutes, was chasing the world 1500m record in 1956 at the Australian National Championships. Another Australian legend, Ron Clarke, was in the lead when he stumbled and fell. As the other runners passed Clarke, Landy jogged back to help him to his feet and abandoned all hope of breaking the world record. However, Landy’s race wasn’t over. Coming from well behind, he displayed amazing speed and endurance over the last two laps to win the race only six seconds outside the world mark.

Respecting and assisting fellow competitors is the highest and most rewarding sense of personal glory. The sense of well being and purpose is a extraordinary feeling. If one of our fellow BMX lovers is injured, take the time to make sure he/she is okay and help them get back to their feet.

Kurt Fearnley, Australian wheelchair racer

At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, the UK’s David Weir won the gold medal in the men’s 800m T54 race ahead of Kurt Fearnley from Australia. Following the race, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) ordered a re-run after discovering a lane violation. Fearnley and the Australian authorities wrote to the IPC asking that, in the spirit of sportsmanship, the re-run be cancelled and the medals re-instated. “I just thought that at the end of the day a race was run, it may not have been the race that was supposed to happen but it happened and the best man won,” said Fearnley. Fearnley and Weir will again race in London.

Loss is something that is never a nice feeling. It is one of the true tests of sport which some individuals do not even have the ability to get over. But Kurt Fearnley has hit the nail on the head. “At the end of the day a race was run it may not have been the race that was supposed to happen but it happened and the best man won.” Another race will come.

Lawrence Lemieux, Canadian sailor

Racing alone near the halfway point in his Finn class race at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, Lemieux was in second place in a seven-race event when he spotted two Singapore sailors in the water. Both injured, they were unable to right their boat. Lemieux broke away and sailed to rescue them, waited for an official patrol boat and then transferred the two sailors. He continued his race and finished in 22nd place. After the race, the International Yacht Racing Union jury awarded him second place, his position when he went to the aid of the capsized crew.

Judy Guinness, British fencer

At the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Britain’s Judy Guinness was on her way to a gold medal when she informed officials that her opponent, Austria’s Ellen Preis, had touched her twice. The hits would have gone undetected and Guinness would have won. Instead she relinquished the win and took the silver medal.

The feeling that Judy Guinness felt when relinquishing the gold must have been an extraordinary moment and something that she will hold as one of her proudest moments.

Katrin Green, German long jumper

We’ve included this one because it happened just recently at a Paralympic World Cup event.

With a medal in the bag, Katrin Green watched as her Chinese opponent, Juan Wang, leaped for gold. Not content with just being a spectator, Green whipped up the crowd and helped them cheer Wang on to a winning jump of 4.78m. Green settled for bronze.

We can’t always control the outcome of a game or a race, but we can control how we each behave while competing. Good sportsmanship is the mark of a great athlete and it’s moments like those listed above that will be remembered long after the medals have been presented.

Good sportsmanship should be actively encouraged at all levels of sport. Your club should have a Code of Behaviour that clearly explains what is expected of each member on and off the field and outlines the principles of good sportsmanship and fair play. Go to the Play by the Rules Club Toolkit for a Code of Behaviour template. Simply add your club’s logo or use it as the starting point to develop your own policy.