Swimmer Loses Chance at Winning to Honor Terror Attack Victims

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. take matters into (one’s) own hands / teɪkˈmæt ərsˈɪn tu oʊn hænds / (idiom) – to deal with a problem yourself instead of letting the people expected to solve it do so

    The player took matters into his own hands and punched his cheating opponent.

  2. fame / feɪm / (n) – the state of being widely known

    The athlete gained fame after beating several medalists in the race.

  3. pay tribute to (someone or something) / peɪ ˈtrɪb yut tu / (idiom) – to publicly show respect

    The people paid tribute to the soldiers who fought in war.

  4. haphazardly / hæpˈhæz ərd li / (adv) – without a clear plan or direction

    She threw the balls haphazardly instead of aiming for the basket.

  5. solidarity / ˌsɒl ɪˈdær ɪ ti / (n) – a feeling of unity because of the same goals or interests

    The people are joining acts of solidarity like protests and vigils to condemn terrorist acts in their country.


Read the text below.

A Spanish swimmer held a minute of silence for terror attack victims in Spain, sacrificing his chance at winning during the 2017 Masters World Championship.

Before the competition, swimmer Fernando Alvarez had requested a minute of silence to be offered for the victims of recent terror attacks in two Spanish cities. However, the International Swimming Federation rejected his plea. Alvarez then took matters into his own hands and held his own minute of silence during the competition. He lost after starting the race one minute late.

When interviewed by the media, Alvarez explained that the feeling of holding his own minute of silence was better than if he had won all the gold in the world. He was given NT, or no time recorded, in the official results. 

The swimmer’s action gained social media fame and some netizens criticized the competition for refusing to pay tribute to the attacks’ victims.

The terror attacks happened in crowded areas in Barcelona and Cambrils [kam BREELS], Spain. The first involved an anonymous driver who haphazardly drove his van into a crowd, leaving more than ten dead and many injured. The second, which was similar to the first, happened at a coastal resort. Authorities believe that the two attacks were related.

Like the swimmer, other athletes have also expressed solidarity with the victims of the attacks. At one football match in Spain, players wore black armbands and held a banner that said “We are all Barcelona.” In a separate event, members of another football team wore jerseys without their names and with only “Barcelona” written on them. Both teams also observed a minute of silence for the victims.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you were Alvarez, would you also start the race late or would you try your best to win it? Why?
• Under what situations would you lose a competition on purpose? Explain.

Discussion B

• Why do you think the organizers rejected the Spanish swimmer’s request? Discuss.
• Should sports competitions allow acts of social awareness (e.g. holding a minute of silence, paying tribute)? Explain.