Every athlete dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal in their chosen event, but even among professional athletes very few have the privilege of standing on the highest dais when the medals are presented.
But there is one very special award given at each Olympic Games to only one athlete. It’s the “Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy” – named after the French founder of the modern Olympic movement.
The Fair Play Trophy is given to one athlete every four years who is deemed to have exhibited the spirit of fairness, compassion, and good-sportsmanship.
The first ever Fair Play Trophy was awarded to an Italian bobsledder named Eugenio Monti in the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics. It was for a gesture that exhibited incredible selflessness. Monti was representing Italy in the two-man bobsled event at the 1964 games, and was the competition’s leader after his final run. The only competitor with a chance to beat Monti was a British bobsledder named Tony Nash.
As Nash and his teammate prepared for their final run, they discovered that a critical bolt on their sled had snapped at the last moment. Without the crucial part the Great Britain team couldn’t make their final run and the Italian team would win gold.
Eugenio Monti of Italy was informed of his competitor’s problem. Without thought or discussion, Monti immediately took the corresponding bolt from his own sled and sent it up the mountain to Nash.
Nash fixed his sled with Monti’s part, then came hurtling down the course to set a record and win the gold medal.
He may have came second, but Monti won the hearts of his nation and was awarded the first ever Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy.
This Olympic story from over half a century ago reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Scripture: “Let nothing you do be done through selfish ambition or greed, but in humility let each of you think more about others than yourself. Let each of you constantly look out for the interests of others. When you do this you will have the same approach to living as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
Jesus says that for those who live a selfless life as they surrender daily to Him their “reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:12). May Christ’s promises be the award and recognition you seek.
About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series of short stories – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.
Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read the story of the link between monkey catchers in Africa and losing one’s soul.