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Before there was a “flying tomato” (snowboarder Shaun White) , there was a man fondly known as “the flying redhead”. He was Eugenio Monti, of Italy, who was the very best bobsledder of his time and, quite possibly, the best bobsled driver in history. Monti won a total of 10 World Championship Medals (9 of them Gold) and six Olympic medals (2 Gold).
As powerful a force on the bobsled run as Monti was, his greatest attribute was his embrace, enhancement, and total commitment to sportsmanship. In the 1964 Winter Olympics at Innsbruck, Monti stepped up to assist the two man British bobsleigh team of Tony Nash and Robin Dixon. Nash and Dixon were in jeopardy of not competing because they had a broken bolt on their sled. Monti took a bolt off his sled and lent it to the English duo. They took the Gold Medal in the event, and Monti and his partner in the two-man took the Bronze. When the Italian press got on Monti for helping out the English, he simply said “they did not win because of the bolt, they won because they drove faster”.
Monti again proved the character of his sportsmanship at the same Olympic games when the Canadian four man team led by Vic Emery were in danger of not being able to compete, due to a damaged axle. Monti and his sled mechanics went to the aid of the Canadians, successfully repaired the sled, and kept the Canadians in the competition. The Canadians won the Gold Medal and, again, as in two man, Monti’s four man team took the Bronze.
For his selfless acts of kindness and sportsmanship–in the very finest spirit of the Olympic games–Monti won the Pierre de Coubertin Medal, awarded by the Olympic Committee to someone who displays the true spirit of Olympic competition and sportsmanship.
At the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics, Monti took the Gold in both two-man and four-man bobsledding.
Monti died in 2003, after suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
The next time you compete against someone, remember it’s not all about winning–measure yourself against the example set by Eugenio Monti and you’ll truly get the most out of your athletic competition as well as bring some true Olympic spirit to your game.
The Fine Print: Photo embed courtesy of our friends at GettyImages.com, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This photo has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing. Photo (c)2018 GettyImages.com. Text (c)2018 Donald Pierce.