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Post: Saved an opponent at the expense of an Olympic medal: the success of an Italian bobsleigh


Mutual aid is a common thing in sports. Clubmates and teammates help each other to achieve a common goal. But history also knows the unique cases when the main competitors came to the rescue by sacrificing the most valuable thing – medals.

This sledgeman was Eugenio Monti. Contrary to logic, the Italian literally twice saved his opponents, who were higher on the podium than him at one Olympics.

Came to bobsleigh after a terrible injury

You can shoot an action-packed movie in Monty’s life, where several incredible turns of fate take place at the same time. Eugenio has been skiing since childhood and was viewed as an incredibly promising athlete. He won several national competitions and was preparing to conquer international tournaments when he fell badly in training.

The skier tore ligaments in both knees and spent months recovering. Having started training, the Italian immediately understood that the old speed would not return. He didn’t want to be the average athlete, so he gave up skiing.

Eugenio could not sit idle for long and began to sled. In this sport, knee problems did not prevent a dream from coming true – to be the best. Monty qualified for the 1956 Home Games, where he won silver medals in the doubles and quads events. It was considered one of the favorites at the next Olympics, but bobsleigh was removed from the program due to the economic problems of the host country. A new chance had to wait eight years.

At the 1964 Olympics, Eugenio’s team had a good time in the duos competitions and got into the top three after the first run. The British, who damaged the beans before the decisive attempt, were the leaders. They cut a bolt on the rear axle.

Eugenio Monti at the 1964 Olympic Games in Innsbruck - RIA Novosti, 1920, 17.04.2023

There were no reserves, so the British would retreat and say goodbye to their gold medal dream. Monty came to the rescue. The Italian took a piece of his own bean, giving his opponents a bolt. Thanks to this generosity, the British were able to perform and became champions. The crew of the good-natured Italian took third place.

“The British didn’t win because of the lightning. They were the fastest,” Monty said after the awards ceremony.

Eugenio could easily have stayed away, but his conscience and good nature would not allow him to do otherwise. This move was worth the silver medal, which, after the elimination of the opponents, will go to the Italians. The most surprising thing is that Monty has achieved a similar trick in the quad competition.

Before the decisive race, the Canadian team damaged bob’s axle. The team could not bring a mechanic with them, so there was only one way out – to retreat. Then Monty convinced his own technicians to have the Canadians fix the beans. Even the end of the story repeated the duo rivalry. The team assisted by the Italians took the gold, while Eugenio was content with the bronze.

“It was a gesture any athlete could do,” Monti insisted.

Such disinterested actions of the Italians influenced the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The organization has created a special award named after Pierre de Coubertin, given for the manifestation of the true spirit of sport. Monty was the first recipient of the award.

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Suicide due to a terrible disease

Fate nevertheless rewarded Monty for good deeds. At the next Olympics, the 40-year-old Italian became the champion in both the doubles and quadruple tournaments. After the double win, Eugenio ended his career as the manager of the Italian national team.

Unfortunately, Eugenio’s story did not have a happy ending. After reaching the main goal and winning the Olympic gold medals, the life of the Italians began to crumble. First, his wife, with whom he raised two children, left him. Soon her daughter moved to the United States, and her son died from a drug overdose.

Monty was completely alone. He suffered from depression in his old age and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 75. The former athlete did not want to turn into a helpless old man and committed suicide.

“Monty made other people feel like champions, but he was the real winner all this time,” said Italian bobsled Luciano de Paolis, who performed in the same carriage as Eugenio at the funeral.

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Source: Ria

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