Roberto Carcelen of Peru, racing with a fractured rib, finished in last place in the men's 15K Classic cross country event, but did himself and his country proud regardless.
Dario Cologna of Switzerland won the gold with a time of 38 minutes, 29.7 seconds. Carcelen was nearly a half-hour behind at one hour, six minutes, 28.9 seconds.
But as he crossed the finish line, 10 minutes after the closest finisher, he carried Peru's flag, just as he'd done in the Opening Ceremony. Cologna, among others, was there to congratulate him.
Carcelen has a fascinating story: as a teen, he was a semi-pro surfer in his native Peru. He didn't even strap on a pair of skis until age 34. He met his wife, a Microsoft executive, online and moved to Seattle to be with her.
He fell in love with skiing and managed to become Peru's first-ever Winter Olympian in 2010. Just three weeks before Sochi, he injured his ribs in training, and an Austrian doctor informed him that he likely wouldn't be able to compete. Carcelen decided to press onward regardless, and set himself a goal: just finish.
He knew he was in for a fight: "I'm going for it, it will be a long and painful race," the 43-year-old Olympian said beforehand. "This is one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced."
He met the challenge, and did so with honor. Well done.
“Everyone says to me, ‘Oh, you’re so lucky.’ I don’t believe luck exists,” Carcelen said a few weeks before the Games. “It’s all about how you approach life.”
Jay Busbee, Yahoo! US / Fourth Place Medal