Spanish swimmer sacrifices race to honour Barcelona victims

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A Spanish swimmer sacrificed his position in a World Masters Championships race to pay tribute to the victims of the Barcelona terror attacks.

Fernando Alvarez had asked the competition’s organisers to schedule a minute’s silence in honour of the victims, but his request was refused.

Instead, he stood still on his starting blocks, observing a personal minute’s silence as the other 200m finalists raced away.

14 people were killed and 130 injured when a driver of a van deliberately ploughed into crowds in Barcelona most tourist street, Las Ramblas, on Thursday. 

A video of Mr Alvarez’s silent tribute has been viewed over 600,000 times on Facebook after being shared by his swimming club, Club Natacion Cadiz, with the message: “In life you have to hold values above everything else.”

Speaking to El Espanol, the veteran swimmer said he had contacted the competition’s organisers on Friday, requesting a minute’s silence, but did not get a response. 

After appealing to the competition’s director, he was told it “was not possible because not a minute could be wasted.” 

“It’s something that has affected us all,” he told El Espanol. “But maybe because of the distance and because I have family there… I really think it would have been a good thing to do.

“I stayed alone. I left a minute later. But I do not care, I felt better than if I won all the gold in the world.”

The organiser of the championships FINA (the International Swimming Federation) has faced backlash on social media. 

People have taken to its Facebook page to voice their criticism, with one person condemning FINA for “blinkered vision,” whilst others called for Mr Alvarez to be awarded a gold medal.

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