The Rio Olympic Games have delivered an incalculable number of spectacular sporting moments. But one particular moment during the women’s marathon on Sunday has attracted a great deal of controversy.
German twins Anna and Lisa Hahner crossed the finish line holding hands, in what was initially interpreted as an uplifting end to a rigorous race. It was heartwarming — two sisters, both of whom had trained for years to compete in the Olympics — decided to finish their marathon journey the way they had started: together.
Oddly enough, the Hahner sisters weren’t the only siblings to feature in the women’s marathon. Another set of twins from North Korea, Kim Hye-Song and Kim Hye-Gyong also competed, running identical times. And a set of triplets from Estonia, Lily, Liina and Leila Luik, embarked on the 42km race — but Lily and Liina ran different times, and Leila didn’t finish the race.
The Olympic marathon starred twins from Germany, N.Korea & triplets from Estonia. Commentator’s nightmare. pic.twitter.com/rvhqW5M1YA
— Henry Young (@Henryoung) August 14, 2016
For some reason, it’s only the German sisters who have been heavily criticised for the way they ended the marathon.
German Athletics Federaton director Thomas Kurschilgen said, “The Hahner twins Lisa and Anna ended their Olympic marathon race more than 21 minutes behind the winner (and) more than 15 minutes on their best performance, (in position) 81 and 82.”
“It looked as though they completed a fun run and not (an) Olympic (race).”
In an email on Tuesday to the New York Times, Kurschilgen said that while “victory and medals are not the only goal,” the Hahner sisters crossed an important line when it comes to sportsmanship.
“Every athlete in the Olympic competitions should be motivated to demonstrate his or her best performance and aim for the best possible result,” he said.
“Their main aim was to generate media attention. That is what we criticise.”
The women say this wasn’t their intention, and the way they crossed the finish line was completely spontaneous.