Bernard Dematteis produced an extraordinary moment to show the true spirit of brotherly love on a golden day for the host nation Italy at the European Mounting Running Championships in Arco.
A double champion at the event, Bernard had dominated the 12.31km race today on a course near the beautiful Lake Garda.
But prior to reaching the finishing line, he waited on the final straight so his 30-year-old twin Martin could come through to be crowned champion. The brothers were separated by just a second, 53:33 to 53:34, and the two men held Italian flags as they embraced together.
Behind the gesture lies a tragic story with the death last year of Martin’s young son Matthew.
Bernard, speaking to fidal.it, said: "I had a dream, to arrive at the finish line with my twin brother Martin.
"In recent days I imagined the scene and when I found myself living it, I felt within me a storm of emotions.
"For me this is more valuable than a victory with 20 seconds of an advantage. There are things that go beyond a success."
Martin said: "I have to thank Bernard. It was a year that I was aiming to get back on this race after so many difficulties: it was a genuine sports rebirth. Uphill I thought all the time of Matthew and all the loved ones who gave me the strength to do all this, today and in the past months."
On a course that included a climb towards the Arco Castle, Bernard first collected a flag near the finish but held on for Martin to come into sight to let him cross the line first.
Turkey’s Ahmet Arslam was third (54:09) followed by Great Britain’s Andrew Douglas (54:32) and the third Italian, Cesare Maestri (54:39), and the Czech Republic’s Jan Janu (54:42) in sixth.
It meant there was still gold for Bernard as Italy lifted the team trophy with just a mere eight points from the Czech Republic (29) and Britain (33).
It was some day too for Italy in the women’s event as they won the team title, but the individual honours went the way of Britain’s Emily Collinge, 28, who produced a stunning performance over the 8.54km course.
Collinge was the favourite and she lived up to expectations with victory by 27 seconds in 43:41 from Italy’s Alice Gaggi (44:08) and Sara Bottarelli (44:24).
With Valentina Belotti (45:17) in sixth, the combination gave Italy’s senior women this team title with 11 points from Britain (21) and the Czech Republic (31), whose first runner home was Pavla Schorna-Matyasova (44:31) in fourth.
— Atletica Italiana (@atleticaitalia) July 2, 2016
Turkey snatched double gold
What a race the junior men had over 8.54km, with the top four separated by 15 seconds and the team event could not have been closer.
Individual gold went to Turkey’s Ferhat Bozkurt, 19, in 39:00 as he beat Italy’s Davide Magnini (39:35) and it was a repeat scenario in third and fourth, with Turkey’s Mustafa Goksel (39:36) finishing ahead of Italy’s Daniel Pattis (40:05).
With the first three runners counting, the team title would be decided on who was next from either country and it went the way of Turkey as Abdulmuttalip Kervan was sixth (40:59), just ahead of a trio of Frenchman led by Mathieu Jacquet (41:14).
Turkey won the team event with 10 points from Italy with 20 and France with 24.
The women’s junior race was more clear cut as the Czech Republic’s Michaela Stranska, 19, was superb as she won by over a minute.
Tackling the 4.03km in style, she triumphed in 18:03 from Italy’s Giulia Zanne (19:08) and Britain’s Heidi Davies (19:09).
But Davies also found herself at the top of the podium as Britain’s women won team gold (18 points) from Italy (27) and the Czech Republic (33).
Congratulations Michaela Stranska - European Junior Mountain Running Champion 2016! pic.twitter.com/p8pB6B52gz
— Libor Varhaník (@LiborVarhanik) July 2, 2016