American & New Zealand runners help each other after fall, set an inspiring example at Olympics

The Olympic spirit was alive and well in Brazil at the women’s 5,000-meter qualifying heat.

With about 2,000 meters to go, New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin took a fall and American Abbey D’Agostino tumbled over her onto the track. D’Agostino got up, but Hamblin did not, laying on the track after falling on her shoulder.

With hopes dashed of qualifying for the finals, the runners put aside competition and politics to help each other, warming the collective hearts of fans at the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

“Get up. We have to finish this,” D’Agostino told Hamblin as she bent over to help her fellow athlete.

“I was like, “Yup, yup, you’re right. This is the Olympics Games. We have to finish this,'” Hamblin said, according to Fox News.

But it was D’Agostino who needed the help apparently, realizing as she continued to run that she was hurt. She pressed on, in obvious pain, to complete the race as Hamblin then slowed to return the favor and offer some encouragement.

“She helped me first. I tried to help her. She was pretty bad,” Hamblin said and moved ahead thinking D’Agostino would stop running. But she did not.

“I didn’t even realize she was still running. When I turned around at the finish line and she’s still running, I was like, wow,” Hamblin said. The two runners, in tears,  hugged each other as the American crossed the finish line.

“That girl is the Olympic spirit right there,” Hamblin said of D’Agostino. “I’ve never met her before. Like, I never met this girl before. And isn’t that just so amazing. Such an amazing woman.”

Olympic officials decided that both runners, and Austria’s Jennifer Wenth, who was also affected by the fall, would have places in Friday’s final after all.

D’Agostino was taken away in a wheelchair but reached out to grip forearms with her new friend, creating a snapshot that will live on in memories as an example of true sportsmanship.

“I’m never going to forget that moment,” Hamblin said, according to Fox. “When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story … That girl shaking my shoulder, (saying) ‘come on, get up’.”

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Frieda Powers

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