I was moved by Peter Sagan’s victory speech at the Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. Not only was his win electrifying, he took his huge achievement and dedicated it to the fight against human suffering.
Many media outlets have mentioned Sagan gave much of his speech to discussing the refugee crisis in Europe, though few (if any?) have shown interest in trying to understand or engage with his message.
Perhaps this is because Sagan speaks English as a second language, and isn’t always easy to follow. Perhaps it’s because a display of thoughtfulness was too far off the script journalists like to pedal when writing about him.
Some outlets (the UCI’s youtube account is one) have presented video of his speech with these comments edited out.
But Peter’s message is worthy of specific attention.
I listened to it again, and transcribed it, removing the ‘likes,’ which are clearly equivalent to simply hesitating with ‘um’ (he’s not actually making similes). I also corrected some obvious grammatical slips (like saying ‘founding’ instead of ‘finding’).
Here’s what I ended up with:
I was finding motivation in the world.
I think it’s a big problem, with Europe and all this stuff that’s happening.
I want to just say, because this was very big motivation for me; I want to win today and say this thing:
The population in the world – we have to change, because in the next years, can be all different.
And also I think this competition, and all the sport, is very nice for the people, and we are motivation for the people.
And I am hoping we can do the sport, next years and in the future, because the situation is very difficult.
Then I want to say all the people: change this world.
Watch along here (and notice he’s thrown when the presenter steers straight back to the race):
Now I’ve removed ‘like, for’ from the last sentence as this was clearly Sagan struggling to get his words together. At several points he is sighing, visibly frustrated with the difficulty of communicating something which is so important to him that he has imagined dedicating his victory from the outset. It seems obvious to me – the last line is meant, with compassion, as an imperative: change this world.
Consider also how important this message is right now, coming from an Eastern European.
Sagan should be commended for his message and I hope it spreads far and wide; to our own shores as well as those of Europe where so much tragedy has unfolded already.