An uncommon scene occurred during the women’s 5,000m qualifying heat at the Rio Olympics when athletes Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino collided halfway through the fifth lap.
In a move that touched viewers worldwide, D’Agostino got up but chose to help her fellow athlete to her feet, rather than continue with the race. Hamblin initially remained on the ground after receiving the brunt of her fall on her shoulder, but rose to her feet to finish the race after some encouraging words from the American athlete.
Hamblin said: “Suddenly, there was this hand on my shoulder like ‘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. I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there.”
D’Agostino also received an injury to her knee in the process and ran the final 2,000m with Hamblin by her side. Hamblin thought that D’Agostino’s injury would see her stop racing: “She was pretty bad. I didn’t even realise she was still running. When I turned around at the finish line and she’s still running, I was like, ‘wow’”.
Hamblin finished in 29th place as D’Agostino limped across the finish line in 30th. The athletes embraced before D’Agostino was taken away from the track in a wheelchair. The pair were applauded across social media for their sportsmanship.
Speaking after the race, Hamblin said: “When I look back on Rio 2016, I’m not going to remember where I finished, I’m not going to remember my time… but I’ll always remember that moment.
“Sometimes I guess you have to remember trying to be a good human being is more than, you know. If I hadn’t waited for her or tried to help her, I would have been 10 or 15 seconds quicker and what does that matter?”
If fit enough, the duo will run again in the 5,000m finals on Friday 19th August, following successful protests from the USA and New Zealand teams.