Iván Fernández Anaya as an Example of Applied Intercultural Dialogue


An interaction between Spanish and Kenyan athletes in December 2012 made a major splash in the news a month later (reaching the English language press only after it was widely reported in the Spanish language press). The story is still circulating on social media today. While not typically presented as an example of intercultural dialogue, it is an interesting model for what can happen when members of different cultural groups meet. The story is included here for those who have not yet heard about it. For those who have, it would be interesting to hear similar examples from other contexts – feel free to either reply with a comment, or send an email suggesting a related story to post.

“. . .on December 2 [2012], Spanish athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai – bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner – the certain winner of the race – mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line. Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first.”
    Source: Arribas, Carlos. (19 December 2012). Honesty of the long-distance runner. [Madrid].

“In the weeks that followed, Fernandez saw his story gain momentum outside the Spanish media. He gained thousands of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and once again saw an opportunity to do something kind. The athlete put the green shirt and red shorts he wore for the race up for auction on eBay with the intention of donating all proceeds to the Red Cross, an organization he described as “one of the hardest working worldwide.”
His website lauded the organization’s dedication to promoting peace and international cooperation, as well as mutual respect and understanding among all the world’s people. . . The winning bid was €560.”
    Source: Internet swoons for Spanish runner who helped competitor win. (January 2013). CBC News [Canada].

Additional coverage:
Huffington Post
USA Today
Vancouver Sun

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