When winning isn't everything

LAWRENCE LEMIEUX, OLYMPIC SAILING, 1988

The Canadian worked three jobs and lived out of his van for 15 years to pursue his sailing dreams.

He arrived in Busan a medal contender and was second in the fifth of seven Finn races when he saw Singapore’s Joseph Chan and Siew Shaw Her in distress after their boat capsized.

Lemieux veered from his course to rescue the 470 pair before finishing his race in 22nd place.

“Your dream is sort of shattered but on the other hand you just do what you have to do,” he said.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON SOFTBALLERS, WASHINGTON, 2008

Western Oregon University’s Sara Tucholsky had just hit her first home run, with two runners on base, but her right knee gave out before tagging first base.

If her teammates helped her, she would be called out. If a pinch-runner came in, the homer would count as a single.

So Central Washington University’s Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace carried her around the diamond, gently lowering her at each base so that she could tag it with her left leg.

Western Oregon won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference game and Central Washington were eliminated from play-off contention.

JACK NICKLAUS, RYDER CUP, 1969

Putting his best foot forward after making par on the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, American Nicklaus leaned down and picked up Tony Jacklin’s marker.

He conceded a three-footer and the Ryder Cup was drawn for the first time though the United States retained the trophy.

The Briton remembers Nicklaus’ words: “I don’t believe you would have missed that but I’d never give you the opportunity in these circumstances.”

Some in the American team were furious. US captain Sam Snead said: “We went over there to win, not to be good ol’ boys.”

JOHN LANDY, AUSTRALIAN MILE CHAMPIONSHIP, 1956

Landy stopped mid-race and went back to check on competitor Ron Clarke, who fell after his heel was clipped by another runner.

When Clarke got back on his feet, Landy chased down the pack with two laps to go to win the race in 4min 4.2sec.

Already the one-mile world record holder (3:58.0), he missed out on the chance to rewrite his own mark. A statue at Melbourne’s Olympic Park immortalises the act but Landy said: “I did something on the spur of the moment. I think too much is made of it.”

SHABAB AL-ORDON CLUB, JORDAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION FINAL WOMEN’S LEAGUE, 2018

Five Shabab Al-Ordon players formed a wall but not because they conceded a free kick. The human shield was to allow an Arab Orthodox player to adjust her hijab in private after her headscarf came undone during the game in Amman.

BJORNAR HAKENSMOEN, OLYMPIC CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING, 2006

The Canadian women’s sprint relay team were favoured and leading in Torino when Sara Renner’s pole snapped.

She continued but was soon passed by a Finn, Swede and Norwegian. She remembered “flapping around” until a “mystery man” held out his pole. Canada would finish second and Norway fourth.

Hakensmoen’s team missed the podium because the Norway coach did not miss a beat, reacting quickly (so quick that you might have missed the moment – 65 seconds into this video) to help Renner.

He said: “If you win, but don’t help somebody when you should have, what win is that? I was just helping a girl in big trouble.”

NAOMI OSAKA, US OPEN, 2019

Third-round match won, Osaka decided to share the Arthur Ashe Stadium spotlight with her American opponent Coco Gauff.

“These people are here for you,” the defending champion from Japan told the rising star. “Look, you’re amazing. Seriously.”

Losers of a tennis match rarely get to address the crowd but Gauff is no ordinary 15-year-old and Osaka, the first Asian singles world No. 1, knows about unprecedented territory. And empathy.

BOBBY PEARCE, OLYMPIC ROWING, 1928

Sportsmanship can be partly defined as generous treatment of others – animals included.

At the Amsterdam Games, Pearce did not duck at the chance to show kindness during his single sculls quarter-final. The Australian stopped his boat and waited for a family of ducks to cross the race course while his rival built a five-length lead. He came from behind to win that race and, ultimately, gold with a Games record.

TOMORROW: Sports books to read

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