Though Canadians across the country may still be outraged on his behalf, Evan Dunfee says he’ll sleep soundly tonight.
The 25-year-old from Vancouver was at the centre of controversy in the men’s 50km race walk event on Friday. In the final throes of the nearly four-hour-long race, Dunfee passed Hirooki Arai of Japan to put himself into bronze-medal position.
Then came contact between the two that clearly threw Dunfee off his stride. He finished fourth, prompting Athletics Canada to ask for a review of the event.
Their appeal was temporarily successful, putting Dunfee on the podium, but was ultimately overturned when Japan counter-appealed, leading to some displeased reactions from those watching at home.
All I can say is Evan Dunfee got absolutely robbed today.. #CAN
— Michael Speight (@Speight19) August 19, 2016
You gotta feel for Evan Dunfee. Bumped, comes in 4th, awarded bronze after an appeal, and now back to 4th after an appeal of the appeal.
— Taryn D. (@taryneliza_beth) August 19, 2016
— Brittany C (@BChristopo) August 19, 2016
But Dunfee, despite the physical exhaustion of the race and emotional roller-coaster of not winning, then winning, then once again not winning a medal, put it all in perspective in a statement released through Athletics Canada.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my efforts out on the course today,” he said. “I know that I left everything I possibly had out there and I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Dunfee said that after the Japanese team’s successful counter-appeal, he had the option of filing a further appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but decided that the correct decision had been made.
“Both the Japanese athlete and myself got tangled up, but what broke me was that I let it put me off mentally,” he said. “Contact is part of our event, whether written or unwritten and is quite common, and I don’t believe that this was malicious or done with intent.”
Dunfee, who also took part in the 20km race walk earlier in Rio, said that he was pleased to see his event receive such a reception from Canadian fans. Going forward, Dunfee—who won gold in the 20km race walk at the 2015 Pan American Games—doesn’t want the Rio Games controversy to define his career.
“I will sleep soundly tonight, and for the rest of my life, knowing I made the right decision,” he said. “I will never allow myself to be defined by the accolades I receive, rather than the integrity I carry through life.”