In one selfless act Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee erased the fratricidal image of Cain killing Abel as he helped his stricken brother Jonny over the line in the World Series event in Mexico.
However, with praise raining down on him Alistair’s blunt no nonsense retort to all the fuss was to tell the BBC: “First I was just thinking: ‘What an idiot’. He could have won this race so easily and he’s been tactically so ridiculous.”
Indeed Jonny himself tweeted none too seriously from his hospital bed over an image of him wobbling on the final stages of the running leg: “Normally when you have had too much to drink. This time it was the opposite #ouch.”
Jonny, who took silver behind Alistair in the Rio Olympics, told the BBC that such an act only came from an exceptional person.
“Alistair had the chance to win but threw that away to help me out,” said the 26-year-old, who led last Sunday’s (Sept 18) race and could have won the World Series crown until the 33 Celsius heat overcame him around 1.5 kilometres from the end.
“I’ll be thankful for the rest of my life.
“Obviously it takes a very strong and good person to do that.
“Sometimes in sport we talk about winning being the most important thing in the world.
“A lot of times it is, but maybe helping a brother out was more important.”
Alistair, who also took gold in London in 2012 with Jonny settling for bronze, admitted his gesture had him reflecting about whether he’d done the right thing in helping his younger brother.
“I sat for an hour after the race thinking: ‘Did I do the right thing?’”, the 28-year-old told the BBC.
“Would he have received medical attention quicker if I’d just left him? Is it the wrong thing to carry someone over the line?
“But the reaction has been nice to reassure me that maybe it was the right thing to do.”
Harry Potter author JK Rowling led the tributes tweeting, probably not with her finest lines, several applause icons followed by several crying ones.
The best selling author could have taken a leaf out of fellow Scot and creator of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle.
The game was indeed afoot when he was on hand to write down, in his role as the Daily Mail correspondent, how Italian Dorando Pietri wobbled in sight of victory in the 1908 Olympic marathon and was helped over the line by officials – subsequently to be disqualified.
“Amid stooping figures and grasping hands I caught a glimpse of the haggard, yellow face, the glazed, expressionless eyes, the lank black hair streaked across the brow,” scribbled Conan Doyle.
His description could have been recycled for the state of Jonny lying prone on the ground after he had been helped over the line in San Miguel de Cozume.
The newspapers didn’t miss an opportunity to wax lyrical on a good sports story in a period when they have had to devote pages to Russian state sponsored doping and latterly the exotically-named Russian hackers ‘Fancy Bears’ antics.
“It was a moment that embodied the very essence of sportsmanship and true brotherly love,” trumpeted the English Daily Telegraph.
The Times thundered that nobody would recall in years to come who had won the race or indeed the series but: “Instead they will remember the sacrifice of Alistair Brownlee who, with victory within his grasp, stopped to help his brother Jonny as he teetered on the brink of collapse...in a supreme act of brotherly love.”