UPDATE: See below for results of speed skating men’s 1000m race, which Gilmore Junio backed out of to make way for teammate Denny Morrison. Quick spoiler: This is, so far, the best story we’ve seen from the 2014 Winter Olympics …
There are nice gestures, and then there are GRAND gestures.
Canadian speed skater Gilmore Junio announced that he’d be giving up his spot in the the 1,000-meter Olympic speed skating race so his teammate Denny Morrison would have an opportunity, which is categorically grand.
Canadian speed skater Gilmore Junio has given up his spot in Sochi to teammate Denny Morrison, because he thinks Denny's skating better. Wow
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 11, 2014
According to the Canadian Press:
“Gilmore did it for the team,” team spokesman Antonio Faiola said Tuesday. “Although (Junio) qualified for the 1,000 metres, he knows Morrison is our best skater in this distance. He did it to give our team the best chance to win a medal.”
Considering the gravity of the gesture, Morrison didn’t seem totally bowled over. He said he’s relaxed going into the race and considers it prep for the 1,500 race which comes next.
It’s certainly a generous act and a show of true teamwork and sportsmanship, but it’s not the first time an Olympic athlete has vacated his or her spot to make space for someone else. At the 2004 Athens games, human porpoise Michael Phelps dipped out of the 4×100 medley relay so that teammate Ian Crocker could compete. Crocker, by contrast, was a bit more moved:
“I’m speechless,” Crocker said when he heard. “It’s a huge gift. It’s difficult to accept, but it makes me want to go tear up the pool tomorrow. I’m kind of tearing up.”
And in another similar-but-not-that-similar story, before the start of this year’s games, Team USA biathlete Tracy Barnes gave up her spot to her twin sister Lanny. During the qualifying races in Italy, Lanny was sick and failed to secure a spot. So Tracy decided to literally be the best sister in the entire world. She said, “If you care enough about a person you will make any sacrifice for them. Even if it means giving up your dreams so that they can realize theirs.”
Maybe Barnes and Junio can just get together and solve world hunger while they’re at it?
Anyway, before you cheer on Morrison in the 1,000 meters, here’s his riveting segment from the official Olympic YouTube channel called “Chicken or Beef?”
UPDATE: Denny Morrison has won the silver medal in the men’s 1000m.
Holy crap, Denny Morrison wins silver after Gil Junio gave up his spot in the men's speed-skating 1000. That's amazing.
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 12, 2014
A triumphant end to a pretty amazing story of teamwork and kindness.CTV]