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Photo of Japanese team and fans at World Cup , example of sportsmanship in 2018

Our ten best examples of sportsmanship in 2018

Here’s our top ten moments of sportsmanship in 2018. What do you think?

See also our sportsmanship list for 2017.


Sportsmanship in 2018

1. Japan at the FIFA World Cup

There were many wonderful moments in the FIFA World Cup, but the award for sportsmanship has to go to Japan. They lead 2-0 at half time in their Round of 16 match against Belgium, but Belgium came back in the second half with three goals to destroy Japan’s dreams.

The Japanese response? Devastation of course, but then, just like when they won, they tidied up. Fans picked up rubbish from their part of the stadium, and the team cleaned their changing room, leaving it spotless. All they left behind was a ‘thank you’ note in Russian. 

That is classy.

2. Ty Koehn, Mounds View High School baseball

Ty Koehn was pitching the last inning of a baseball final for Mounds View High School, with Mounds View leading 4-0. Their opposition, Totino-Grace High School, are down to their final out, when up to the plate steps Ty’s childhood friend Jack Kocon.

“We are very close friends,” Ty said. “We were on the same little league team… It was tough when we went to separate schools but we kept in touch. I knew the game was going to keep going or it was going to end right there.”

It ended right there, with Ty striking out Jack looking, to seal a final victory for Mounds View High.

But instead of rushing to celebrate with his team, Ty first embraces his friend from Totino-Grace.

“Our friendship is more important than just the silly outcome of a game’, he revealed. ‘I had to make sure he knew that before we celebrated. It was more instinct, it just felt right.”

Ty’s coach, Mark Downey, is obviously doing a few things right.

“Ty’s actions the other night do not surprise me and are reflective of what I might expect from any one of the players on the team,” Downey said later. “All really great kids, just a joy to be around on a daily basis.”

Ty’s sportsmanship was widely celebrated, but not by all. Here’s one of the responses on Twitter:

‘This makes me shake with rage the more I see it. As I said elsewhere, this offends me as a youth football coach who preaches killer instinct to my players. I would make a player who did this hold his championship ring as I blowtorch it and melt it, because he doesn’t deserve it.’

But Ty Koehn makes our list for sportsmanship in 2018. We think he got it just right.


3. Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov at the US Tennis Open

And we’re pleased to see that this kind of thing doesn’t just happen in amateur sport. It happened at the US Tennis Open when best friends Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov met.

In the highly competitive game the players won one set each, each coming from behind to win 7-5. But in the third set Auger-Aliassime started to be bothered by an apparent heart issue and had to pull out of the match.

The players embraced emotionally at the net, Auger-Aliassime saying, ‘I’m sorry’, while Shapovalov offered his friend encouragement and compassion.

“It’s something he’s been working off and I’m sure he’s going to get fixed up,” said Shapovalov to the crowd after the match. “I told him at the net we’re going to be back here, we’re going to be playing in the finals. This is just one match … I know how frustrating it can be.”



4. Serena Williams at the US Open (yes, really!)

You’re probably surprised that Serena makes our list for sportsmanship in 2018.

She’s remembered for abusing the umpire and smashing her racquet in the final, which was won by 20 year old Naomi Osaka. She later claimed that the umpire was sexist and racist in his calls against her.

But at the net and on the podium Serena Williams embraced her opponent. At the trophy presentation the crowd jeered and Osaka wept, but Williams put her arm around her and comforted her.

Yes, William’s frustrated behaviour completely overshadowed and took the shine off a great victory for Osaka, but in the end Williams acknowledged and supported her opponent.

“She said that she was proud of me and that I should know that the crowd wasn’t booing at me, so I was really happy she said that,” Osaka said.

“At the time I did kind of think they were booing at me, ’cause I couldn’t tell what was going on because it was just so loud in there, it was just a little bit stressful.”

5. Desiree Linden in the Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon winner Desiree Linden, thought of pulling out early in the race. The weather conditions were awful, and Linden was sure it wasn’t going to be her day. But instead of giving up she decided to help another competitor, Shalene Flanagan, for a while. She ran with Flanagan and even waited for her while she took a toilet break.

But somewhere along the way Linden starting feeling better. So she kept going, and ended up being the first American woman to win the race since 1985.

Sports psychologist Nicole Detling reckons that the act of helping someone else was probably what allowed Linden to recover and win.

“Your brain releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin when you help someone. I have no doubt that this surge of hormones helped Linden turn the race around.”


6. Eloise Wellings, Madeline Hills and Celia Sullohern at the Commonwealth Games

Three Australian runners took part in the women’s 10,000m at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, finishing sixth, eighth and sixteenth. While their placings did not win many plaudits, they were lauded for what they did afterwards: they waited on the track for the last runner to come in.

Eloise Wellings, Madeline Hills and Celia Sullohern were naturally exhausted after the race, but they chose to wait an extra four to five minutes, because it was important to them to be there for last placer Lineo Chaka of Lesotho.

‘Good sportsmanship, we love it even more than gold medals,’ commented Australian journalist Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock following this event. Just a shame more Aussie sportspeople don’t feel this way.


7. Anthony Joshua v Alexander Povetkin

Anthony Joshua may have defeated heavyweight challenger Alexander Povetkin with a brutal knockout, but he still had respect for his opponent. After the fight, Joshua visited Povetkin’s dressing room, to offer consolation and encouragement.

The pair hugged, shook hands, and spoke through an interpreter

“Just respect, you good from amateur. Very consistent,” Joshua said.

“I wanna come to Russia,” Joshua added.

Povetkin replied: “Anytime.” 

8. TJ Perenara, All Blacks v Ireland

In completely different circumstances, All Black TJ Perenara also chose to think of his opponent. This was following the All Blacks’ shock loss to Ireland.

Perenara took time to congratulate Irish player Bundee Ali, who was born and raised in New Zealand, both on the field and on Instagram.

‘Nothing but love my brother @bundeeaki. ❤️

Congrats to you and the team. Looking forward to the next one bro. ⚫️’  Perenara wrote.


9. Davis Robey for Mason High School

Back in high school sport, Davis Robey was hoping to finish in the top four in his discus event in order to qualify for the regional championships. But he knew his throw of 132m was not going to be enough.

Robey was shocked then to hear his name read out in fourth place following the event. He immediately approached event officials and discovered that his throw had been wrongly recorded as 137m.

“It’s unfair for someone who did throw farther than me to not move on, because they worked just as hard as I did,” Robey said. “That was my whole thought process on the whole thing, and everything was resolved.”

“I didn’t think it was such a big deal to do this, because I thought most people would,” Robey said.

Happily, Robey qualified legitimately for the regionals in shot put.


10. Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon

Finally in our top ten moments of sportsmanship in 2018, Wimbledon, where Kevin Anderson and John Isner met in what became the second longest grand slam singles match in history. The match lasted 6 hours 36 minutes, with the epic final set won 26-24 by Anderson.

In the press conference, Anderson chose to focus first on his opponent rather than himself.

“I don’t really know what to say,” Anderson said. “Just playing like that in those sort of conditions, just really tough on both of us. At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us, but somebody has to win.

“John’s such a great guy. I really feel for him because being on the opposite side, I don’t know how you can take that playing for so long and coming out short. I apologise if I’m not more excited right now. It’s just so many mixed emotions. Getting through something like that is quite difficult.”

Anderson later tweeted:

‘Thank you John for being an incredible sportsman and friend. It’s an honour to share this piece of history with you.’

View the twitter post.

See our sportsmanship list for 2017.

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Tell us, do you agree with our top ten moments of sportsmanship in 2018? What did we miss?

Author Info

Rebecca Hawkins

Rebecca is the Communications and IT Manager for Sports Chaplaincy NZ. In her younger days she played cricket and football with great enthusiasm but very little skill. Now she spends a lot of time supporting her four sons in their sport. She especially loves scoring their cricket matches, which she insists on doing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper.

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