A remarkable scene unfolded on the Olympic track in Rio on Tuesday during the women’s 5,000 meter race. Two runners collided and went down in a heap — a dangerous moment to be sure, and one that ended their bids for a gold medal in the race, but showed that both have a heart of gold.
Just after the pack of runners rounded a turn, a little more than halfway into the race, U.S. runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin inadvertently got their legs tangled, which caused a collision that sent the two crashing to the rubber. D’Agostino, 24, was able to get to her feet, but upon seeing Hamblin still writhing in pain on the track, instead of immediately getting back in the race, she went to check on her fallen competitor.
“That girl is the Olympic spirit right there,” Hamblin, 28, said afterward. “I went down and I was like ‘what’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like ‘get up, get up, we have to finish this’ and I was like, ‘yep, you’re right’. This is the Olympic Games — we have to finish this.”
And finish the race they did. The two dusted themselves off and hobbled to the finish line, where they crossed more than two minutes after the winner completed the race. The two then shared a hug, proving that “sportswomanship” trumps individual competition sometimes.
Hamblin added, “I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing, such an amazing woman.”
“Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way,” D’Agostino said afterward. “This whole time here he’s made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance — and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”
An MRI later showed D’Agostino suffered a torn ACL, a season-ending injury that will prevent her from racing in the 5,000 meter final. She and Hamblin were both awarded spots in the race after their unexpected fall. Watch how it all unfolded in the highlight video below.