Memorable moments: The grand gesture

 Published 2 September 2022  

 It was a Tuesday to remember at the European Athletics Championships. Most will remember the electrifying successes by Gina Lückenkemper and Niklas Kaul, who helped create a magical night in Munich's Olympiastadion and sent the home crowd into a frenzy of joyful bliss. The applause seemed like it may never cease, however, it had already begun during the morning session, far away from any medal decisions, when a 22-year-old runner from Andorra made headlines - in the most heart-warming way imaginable.  

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It is 16 August 2022, the second day of the track and field action at the European Championships Munich 2022. And at 11:40, the first heat of the 3000m steeplechase starts. 17 runners are fighting for a place in the final, including Nahuel Carabaña from Andorra and the Dane Axel Vang Christensen. A good five and a half minutes after they got underway, the two are in the focus of the cameras and the eyes of the audience, for they are the protagonists of a great fair play gesture that goes will go around the world. 

When the leading Christensen tumbles over the obstacle first after the bend on the back stretch and remains unmoving on the track, it is Carabaña who stops, turns around and helps his opponent. However, the 18-year-old Dane's face is contorted in pain and he cannot get up. To prevent the Dane from lying right behind the obstacle, Carabaña reaches under his arms and pulls him from the inner to the outer lanes, where he is finally treated by the medical staff and carried out of the stadium on a stretcher.  

Carabaña's dream of making it to the final had long shattered. He finishes the race dead last, but to the thunderous applause from the crowd, who appreciates his good nature. It is a gesture that helps to shape Munich 2022, evokes the values of sport and makes waves internationally. It is also a gesture that quite literally leaves its mark on Olympiapark.   

Together with Dr Jenő Kamuti, the President of the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP), the Andorran was allowed to plant a tree in Olympiapark on the final day of the European Championships. The 85-year-old Kamuti had travelled to Munich specially to honour Carabaña. On Sunday evening, he also presented him with the "Special Fair Play Trophy" on behalf of the CIFP and the European Championships Munich 2022.   

Marion Schöne, Managing Director of Olympiapark München GmbH, was also among the well-wishers, as was Sabine Schölzel, who presented a cheque for 2022 euros on behalf of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. Carabaña donated the entire sum to "Associació de Malalties Minoritàries d'Andorra", a non-profit association that campaigns against minority abuse.  

“It was only natural for me to help the fallen runner during the race. In such a moment, camaraderie in sport counts more than competition,” says Carabaña. “I am very honoured to receive the Special Fair Play Trophy and be remembered with a tree in Olympiapark. This achievement will make European Championships Munich 2022 all the more memorable for me.” 

The honour is all ours. 

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European ChampionshipsMunich 2022