|Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua (L) and Morocco’s Samir Azzimani lift Mexico’s German Madrazo onto their shoulders. — AFP Photo|Viet Nam News
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — It might just be the defining image of the Pyeongchang Olympics -- Mexico’s German Madrazo heroically skiing last to the line, proudly brandishing the flag of his country and smiling jubilantly.
After crossing the finish after 15 kilometres of grueling freestyle cross-country racing on Friday, he was lifted high into the air and onto the shoulders of two other athletes for whom just getting to the end was an achievement in itself.
The 43-year-old Madrazo came home in 116th of 116 who made it home, fully 25mins 51.5secs behind the winner Dario Cologna of Switzerland.
Two other competitors failed to finish and one was disqualified, underlining the achievement of even ending the race.
So as Madrazo, who had never even wore skiis until a year ago, approached the finishing line in just shy of an hour, a large Mexican flag was thrust into his hand and a beaming smile formed on his exhausted face.
Spectators and athletes cheered and applauded him on his lone race to the finish.
There, Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua, who finished 114th, and the Moroccan Samir Azzimani (111th) hoisted Madrazo into the air, all three smiling and laughing. — AFP