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Crawford finds peace after giving away medal

SHAWN Crawford carried around a burden in his backpack, one that weighed him down every time he glanced into the bag.

Sure, that silver medal from the 200-meter race at the Beijing Olympics was his.

But not the way he saw it.

Crawford finished fourth, only to move up two spots when Netherlands Antilles sprinter Churandy Martina and fellow American Wallace Spearmon were disqualified for running outside their lanes. All of this drama was lost in Usain Bolt's world record-setting run that night in the Bird's Nest. But each time Crawford looked at his medal, he felt stabs of guilt.

So he gave it back to Martina, who in his opinion beat him fair and square, even though the rules said differently.

"In my heart, I felt he deserved it," said Crawford, who's scheduled to compete in the 100 and 200 at the US championships this week.

For that act, Crawford has received mixed reviews from the athletics community - some admire his goodwill; some are taken aback by it.

"Some people say, 'It's big of you to do that - it shows a true athlete,'" Crawford said. "Some say, 'How could you give it up? You step on the line, you're disqualified. You should be happy to accept it.' I didn't expect to finish in fourth and walk away with silver. I never felt like it was rightfully mine."

European circuit

After Beijing, Crawford made his way on the European circuit, and set out to return the medal to the person he felt it rightfully belonged to - Martina.

At a meet in Zurich, Crawford brought the box with the medal to the front desk of the hotel where Martina was staying, asking the staff to give it to him. He also wrote a short note on hotel stationary that simply read, "You ran a silver medal race and deserve this medal."

Instantly, the anxiety was lifted.

He received a call from Martina soon after dropping off the medal, inviting Crawford over to his hotel room so he could express his gratitude.

"He couldn't believe that I did that," the 31-year-old Crawford recounted. "He was almost speechless. He was very moved."

The medal exchange turned out to be little more than a gesture, however. The Court of Arbitration for Sport recently rejected Martina's claim that he should be listed as runner-up behind Bolt.

Crawford's name will still appear as the silver medalist, while Walter Dix of the US retains the bronze.

However, Martina can rest easy knowing that Crawford has no intention of retrieving that medal. "It's a burden off my back," he said.


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