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These Incredible Acts Of Sportsmanship Will Go Down In Winter Olympics History

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These Incredible Acts Of Sportsmanship Will Go Down In Winter Olympics History

By Ryan Rosendale

While the number one goal of every athlete at the Winter Olympics is to walk away with gold, some don't let their shot at greatness cloud their sportsmanship.

Here, we count down the top 10 Olympic moments of sportsmanship!

10. Nao Kodaira - 2018 PyeongChang Games

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The final of the women's 500m speed skating was a big moment for the host country at the 2018 PyeongChang Games with South Korea's Lee Sang-Hwa expected to win her third consecutive gold medal in front of her home crowd. The fairy tale story however was not meant to be with Japan's Nao Kodaira setting a new Olympic record to win gold and upstage Sang-Hwa, who would take the silver.

It was then during the victory lap celebrations for the medallists that, with Sang-Hwa in clear emotional pain, that Kodaira embraced and comforted her on the ice in what became one of the most enduring shots of the PyeongChang Games.

Nao Kodaira. Credit: Alamy
Nao Kodaira. Credit: Alamy

09. Russia's biathlon team - 2014 Sochi Games

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On the way to the 2014 Sochi Games, the German's biathlon ski grinding machine broke. With no way to replace it and prepare for competition without it, a true act of sportsmanship occurred when the Russian team let their opponents use their machine. Working through the night, both teams worked together to prepare before they would finish first and second in the men's relay to claim gold (Russia) and silver (Germany) in a terrific outcome for both countries.

08. Gilmore Junio - 2014 Sochi Games

This act of sportsmanship occurred between two teammates. At the 2014 Sochi Games, speed skater Gilmore Junio made the surprising decision to withdraw from the 1000m to give his spot to fellow Canadian Denny Morrison. He did this because he believed Morrison stood a better chance of earning a medal for Canada. Morrison had failed to qualify for the 1000m due to falling just 50m from the finish and while he was given another shot, he failed to qualify. The 1000m was a specialty of two-time world champion Morrison while Junio was better at the shorter 500m. Junio recognized this and selflessly put his entire nation ahead of himself when he gave away his spot. This action was something that paid off as Morrison went on to win silver.

Gilmore Junio. Credit: Alamy
Gilmore Junio. Credit: Alamy
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07. Bjornar Hakensmoen - 2006 Turin Games

During the women's cross-country skiing team sprint final at the 2006 Turin Games, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Canada were battling for gold. It was just over halfway through the race when Canada's Sara Renner broke her ski pole and fell from first to fourth. The first person to react was Norway's Bjornar Hakensmoen. Hakensmoen was the coach of the Norwegian team and rushed to Renner's aid and handed her his team's spare pole, allowing Renner to remain in the race. The act would allow the Canadians to eventually finish second while the Norwegians would finish fourth, making this act of sportsmanship even that much more special.

06. Dario Cologna - 2014 Sochi Games

One of the greatest cross-country skiers in history, four-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion, Dario Cologna is also known as one of the most respectable competitors in the sport. This was evident during the 2014 Sochi Games.

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It was during the 15km classic event that when, after securing the gold, Cologna would wait at the finish line for over 20 minutes to congratulate the final competitor of the field. This was Peruvian-American Roberto Carcelen, who came into the Games with injured ribs after a fall during training. This was just one act of sportsmanship that cemented Cologna as one of the most respectable athletes in Winter Games history.

Dario Cologna. Credit: Alamy
Dario Cologna. Credit: Alamy

05. Alex Deibold and Trevor Jacobs - 2014 Sochi Games

Snowboard cross has always been one of the wildest Winter Games events given it involves multiple snowboarders racing down the course to the finish line at the same time. One of the most memorable finishes to this event occurred during the 2014 Sochi Games when American teammates Alex Deibold and Trevor Jacobs were both vying for a spot in the final. With both approaching the finish line and Jacobs in third, slightly ahead of Deibold, the former would lose his balance and swerve while Deibold's board slipped out from under him as he lunged to the line. The photo finish show Deibold advance to the final, finishing second by a hair with both men embracing at the finish line in a true act of sportsmanship between opponents and teammates.

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04. Eugenio Monti - 1964 Innsbruck Games

Known as the most successful bobsledder in Italian history, Eugenio Monti finished his career with six Olympic medals (two golds) and nine world championships. Yet it was his decision at the 1964 Innsbruck Games that proved his level of sportsmanship matched his skill as an athlete.

During the two-man bobsled competition, British pair Tony Nash and Robin Nixon were on their way to gold when, during their third run, Nash realised that a bolt on their sled was missing, and they didn't have a spare. Monti lent the bolt from his own sled to the British team. Nash and Dixon would go on to win Great Britain's first bobsleigh gold medal at the Olympic Games, while Monti and his teammate won the bronze. And despite receiving criticism from the Italian media, Monti said post-race that, "Nash didn't win because I gave him the bolt. He won because he had the fastest run."

Eugenio Monti. Credit: Alamy
Eugenio Monti. Credit: Alamy

03. Justin Wadsworth - 2014 Sochi Games

Justin Wadsworth was the head coach of the Canadian cross-country ski team at the 2014 Sochi Games who displayed a terrific act of sportsmanship that will long be remembered. While watching the men's sprint semi-final, he saw Russian Anton Gafarov fall multiple times due to a broken ski. Wadsworth was holding a spare ski, which he immediately gave to Gafarov, allowing him to finish the race and show a great act of dignity in doing so.

02. Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze - 2014 Sochi Games

For the first time in Winter Olympics history, the 2014 Sochi Games saw a gold medal tie in the women's alpine skiing event. Given the length of the race and the speeds at which skiers move down the mountain, ties are rarely seen in the downhill yet somehow Switzerland's Dominique Gisin and Slovenia's Tina Maze both finished the final with a time of 1:47:57 seconds. The medal ceremony saw both Gisin and Maze look incredibly happy to share the gold medal while bronze medallist Lara Gut, who finished third with a time of 1:47:67, was clearly less enthused with the result, showing that not every competitor has the sportsmanship bone in their body.

01. Tracy Barnes - 2014 Sochi Games

Three-time Olympian Tracy Barnes made the ultimate sacrifice any athlete can make when she gave up her spot on the American biathlon team to her twin sister Lanny. Lanny fell ill during the Olympic trials and was only able to compete in one of the four qualifying races which meant Barnes was nominated to head to her fourth Games. But with Lanny selected as the first alternate, Tracy decided to give her sister a chance at Olympics glory.

In a statement explaining her decision, Tracy said, "The Trials are picking the team that will represent the U.S. in the greatest sporting event in the world. And as the old saying goes, 'Only the strong will survive.' Most of the time, that is the case. On occasion the strong don't survive for whatever reason. And that is what I feel happened to Lanny. She's having a stellar season and she's bound to do great things this year, but she fell ill during the trials and couldn't race. Because of that she didn't make the team. While most people would say, 'That's biathlon,' or, 'That's life' - and they'd be absolutely correct in saying that - but what if that person who was hit with a little bit of bad luck got a second chance? What if someone believed in them enough to give them that chance? Well, that's what I did. Easy decision. Heavy situation."

Tracy Barnes at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. Credit: Alamy
Tracy Barnes at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. Credit: Alamy

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Winter Olympics news, Australia, Winter Olympics, top 10

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