Winter Olympics: Mexican Olympian German Madrazo gets hero's welcome after finishing last

German Madrazo was the last of 116 athletes to finish the 15km freestyle cross-country race.
German Madrazo was the last of 116 athletes to finish the 15km freestyle cross-country race. PHOTO: REUTERS

PYEONGCHANG (AFP) - It might just be the defining image of the Pyeongchang Olympics - Mexico's German Madrazo heroically skiing last to the line, proudly brandishing the flag of his country and smiling jubilantly.

After crossing the finish after 15km of gruelling freestyle cross-country racing on Friday (Feb 16), he was lifted high into the air and onto the shoulders of two other athletes for whom just getting to the end was an achievement in itself.

The 43-year-old Madrazo came home in 116th of 116 who made it home, fully 25mins 51.5seconds behind the winner Dario Cologna of Switzerland.

Two other competitors failed to finish and one was disqualified, underlining the achievement of even ending the race.

So as Madrazo, who had never even wore skiis until a year ago, approached the finishing line in just shy of an hour, a large Mexican flag was thrust into his hand and a beaming smile formed on his exhausted face.

Spectators and athletes cheered and applauded him on his lone race to the finish.

There, Tonga's Pita Taufatofua, who finished 114th, and the Moroccan Samir Azzimani (111th) hoisted Madrazo into the air, all three smiling and laughing.