Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Benoit Mapango's small gesture had a big meaning

Gilmour junior Benoit Mapango's name won't be in the state track program this week in Columbus.
He didn't qualify for the finals of the Division III long jump.
Even though it was announced over the loud speakers at the Navarre Regional that Mapango finished third. He was awarded a medal in front of a crowd of hundreds of people in the middle of the track at Navarre.
But he quickly handed it over to the third place finisher.
Mapango really finished ninth with a jump of 19 feet, six inches.
He could have taken the third place medal and walked away without saying anything. But he did the right thing and handed it over to Rondel Armour of Youngstown Ursuline who took third with a jump of 20-7 1/4.
The small gesture made a big statement.
It didn't go unnoticed in the press box.
When I received the incorrect results, I was surprised to see Mapango finished third and I began to panic because I did not interview him. I try to interview all of the state qualifiers at regionals and it's a job just trying to track them down in a big crowd.
But the results were quickly corrected thanks to Mapango.
I heard about it during a walkie-talkie conversation in the press box. The woman passing out the medals explained the situation and it was corrected.
I give Mapango credit because it couldn't have been easy to do what he did.
He may not be going to state, but Mapango is already a champion in my eyes.
His act of sportsmanship was priceless.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


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