Anna and Lisa Hahner – twins and elite marathon runners from Germany – had a great time competing in the Rio Olympics women’s marathon on Sunday. However, the sisters are now facing heavy criticism for the way they finished the race.
The 26-year-olds crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, smiling broadly, and neither of them medaled in the Olympic marathon. The twins placed 81st and 82nd, a full 21 minutes after the winner finished the race.
And while many think their act was a symbol of solidarity and family affection, German officials are saying that the duo set up the stunt in order to gain publicity and sponsors. Thomas Kurschligen – sports director of the German Athletics Federation – says: “The Hahner twins, Lisa and Anna, ended their Olympic marathon race more than 21 minutes behind the winner, more than 15 minutes on their best performance. It looked as though they completed a fun run and not [an] Olympic [race].”
Additionally, columnist Lars Wallrodt writes: “If the Hahners jointly want to cross the finish line, beaming and holding hands, then they can — in the countryside home run in St. Pölten or the Miss-Braided run in Solingen. At the Olympics all athletes should go to achieve maximum performance, not the most sympathetic photo opportunity.”
Even though Anna and Lisa have admitted that any publicity is beneficial to them, they are defending themselves on social media, saying they didn’t plan to cross the finish line holding hands. In a Facebook post, the twins write: “Number 81 and 82. Definitely not what we had hoped for. Whether we are satisfied? No. Crossing the finish line? Nevertheless, one of our greatest sporting moments.”