Monday, 25 August 2008

Egan's Gold

By Al Bello/Getty Images(L-R) Kenny Egan of Ireland kisses the gold medal of Zhang Xiaoping of China following the Men's Light Heavy (81kg) Final Bout held at the Workers' Indoor Arena during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.

This wonderfully composed photograph is on the front page of the Irish Times today. It shows Ireland's boxer Kenny Egan kissing the gold medal of China's Zhang Xiaoping, the light-heavyweight champion, who won 11-7 in yesterday morning's final. I find this image very beautiful. There is such tenderness in the gesture, such respect. Not just for the Chinese boxer, and it is clearly a compliment to him, but to the medal itself, to the place of the gold medalist. There is such beauty in the way these two boxers, men who fight for a living, at the moment of highest emotion and greatest pride, express themselves with such poise and dignity, with a kiss. And Zhang Xiaoping's face is entirely reciprocal. I see no triumphalism in his expression. It is an expression of understanding, of having been there, and there is grace in it. There is something very moving, too, about the way that Egan's own silver medal is just peeping out from under his elbow, just an arm's length away. There were lots of memorable moments in these Games, but this is the one I'm most moved by, and, in a peculiar way, that for which I am most proud of Egan.

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