2020 Tokyo Olympics: together we win

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The final day of the decathlon at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 marked a historic day of sporting glory, not only for Australia but also for sportsmanship across the globe.

For the unversed, the decathlon is a two-day athletics event that comprises of ten different track and field disciplines. A points system is followed across the ten disciplines and winners are judged based on their ‘combined performance’ across all disciplines.

21-year-old Ashley, or more popularly known as Ash Moloney, became the first-ever Australian to win a decathlon medal at the Olympics. He clinched the bronze on his Olympic debut following a little teamwork from his fellow Australian, Cedric Dubler.

While decathlon runners compete individually, there are often multiple participants representing the same country, competing against their compatriots. In Moloney’s case his compatriot and competitor, Dubler, turned into his teammate as he sacrificed his own race in the final 1500m run to help Moloney grab a medal.

Many have claimed that this act of selflessness will go down as one of the most iconic Olympic moments of all time. Cedric Dubler is even being hailed as a bigger ‘star’ than the medallist, Moloney.

From training partners to competitors

The two Australian athletes were training partners at the University of Queensland Athletics Club under the same coach, Eric Brown. While Dubler was more experienced with participation at the 2016 Rio Olympics under his belt, he was heading into Tokyo 2020 after suffering a leg injury and naturally did not perform his best, finishing  21st overall. On the other hand, Moloney sailed into the podium from the first event dropping personal bests across several disciplines, his consistency hinted at him having a much better poise to finish on the podium. It all came down to the final event of the final day – the 1500m run, all he needed was to finish within 10 seconds of USA’s Garrett Scantling to secure at least a third-place finish overall.

A true act of sportsmanship

Even though it seemed Moloney was almost set for a medal as he only had to finish within 10 seconds of his closest competitor, the gruelling two days had taken a toll on him and he was quite exhausted before the 1500m. Dubler, knowing very well, that he was out of medal contention (even before running the 1500m) took it on himself to steer his compatriot to a medal-winning position. During the race when Dubler noticed Moloney behind Scantling and beginning to fade, he made sure he ran close to him, screaming words of encouragement constantly in his ear, trying to get him going and not giving up – on the race, on the medal, on his dream. Moloney even recalled, talking to Channel Seven, following his win, that he was finding it difficult to put one foot in front of another, after almost hitting a wall around 800m, he realised he needs to stay close to Cedric and not drift far away from him.

Cedric said that he had his own race to run whilst also had to make sure his mate did make it through and at the same time keeping an eye out for Moloney’s closest competitors. Moloney only sprinted off from Dubler’s side when he had to cross the finish line to complete his race. Not surprisingly, as Moloney darted past the finish, Dubler erupted in joy as he had realised, even before Moloney himself, that his fellow Aussie mate had secured the bronze medal. While Moloney lay flat on the track after finishing to catch his breath, Dubler could be seen celebrating and screaming in joy, with the screams of his cheering only getting louder as he himself crossed the finish line.

Dubler winning hearts globally

The sacrifice and support displayed by Cedric Dubler sparked a global outpour of adoration with tweets and social media posts hailing his sportsmanship. Looking at the photographs of the event that surged online, somebody living under a rock, would not even guess that it was Moloney who won as Dubler clearly looked more overjoyed! Needless to say, Moloney, the young gun, could not thank Dubler enough for literally pushing him to victory. He revealed that it was Dubler’s constant screaming, describing it to Channel Seven, like a voice bouncing in his cranium like a “bat in hell”, that kept him going towards the medal. While Moloney’s win was historic for Australia and his personal best, the sacrifice of Dubler and camaraderie between the two Aussies is what took the cake and made the moment even more iconic. Dubler truly stepped up to the Tokyo Olympics 2020 motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together.

While Dubler’s attitude and approach of ‘looking out for a mate’ did create one of the best sporting moments, it also holds true outside the sporting world. Every individual has their own 1500m race they run everyday and not everyone finds it easy to put one foot in front of another. With the current pandemic and lockdown, it’s more challenging than ever. If you find yourself fading out or losing your race, don’t be hard on yourself. Just let a pacer take you through as sometimes we all need a Cedric Dubler to push us to the win.

Feel free to reach out the Health and Wellbeing services at Western Sydney University if you find yourself looking for someone to lean on.

Ayush

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