In the 2008 Olympics Crawford finished a distant 4th in the 200 meter final. The race concluded and he finished off the medal stand. In an instant, his medal status changed, however. The respective 2nd and 3rd place sprinters were disqualified because they ran out of their lane, even though they gained no apparent competitive advantage in so doing. Crawford was awarded the silver medal
Many athletes would have accepted the prize and reaped the benefit, basking in the glory. Crawford didn’t even take a celebratory lap. “This medal was given to me, I don’t deserve it,” he said. “I never felt it was rightfully mine.” The medal haunted his every waking moment for several weeks afterward, until Crawford took drastic action.
Crawford drove to the hotel of the sprinter who originally finished second and left the silver medal for him at the front desk, along with a short note. Crawford told no one what he did, and thought the matter concluded. “In my heart, I felt he deserved it,” said Crawford. The recipient was overcome with gratitude and publicized the incredible gesture of sportsmanship. Crawford diminished the importance of his act, stating he’d done the right thing and could now rest easy.
The pursuit of greatness has nothing to do with medals. Baubles and trinkets and other external rewards pale in comparison to the internal gifts bestowed by competition. Do the right thing, regardless of the reward. The prize and the honor and the irreplaceable satisfaction supersedes the luster of any medal, no matter how shiny. Let your greatness shine for itself, like Crawford.
From October 2010, http://raising-a-man.tumblr.com