‘That Girl is the Olympic Spirit’

Abbey D'Agostino helps up Nikki Hamblin after they collide in first round of women's 5000 meter

On the Olympic stage, every millisecond matters. But that didn’t stop Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand from exhibiting the type of sportsmanship of which champions are made.

The two athletes were competing in the women’s 5000-meter qualifying race when they collided — both falling to the ground in the middle of the pack of runners.

“I’m so grateful to Abbey for doing that for me.”

The fall was awkward, sparking concern that one or both of them were injured. But D’Agostino got quickly to her feet and before she ran off, she took precious time for a class act.

She reached down, lifted the other Olympian to her feet — and pulled her back into the race with her.

“When I went down, I was like, ‘What’s happening, why am I on the ground?’ And suddenly there’s this hand on my shoulder like, ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this,'” Hamblin told the press after the race.

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“And I’m like, ‘OK, yep, yep, you’re right, it’s the Olympic Games, we have to finish this.’ I’m so grateful to Abbey for doing that for me. I mean, that girl is the Olympic spirit right there,” Hamblin continued.

D’Agostino and Hamblin began running again together, committed to finishing the race together. D’Agostino finished 30th in the race and Hamblin 27th. D’Agostino seemed to be limping on her ankle through the rest of the race and she was taken from the track in a wheelchair following the triumphant finish.

Related: Allyson Felix Finds Strength in Faith

“I’ve never met this girl before,” Hamblin said. “That’s an amazing moment. Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that’s a moment that you’re never, ever going to forget.”

Those moments — so unplanned, and testing the human spirit on the spot — are what make the Olympics so powerful. Runners carry each other, inspiring one another to keep going and broadcasting a clear message to the rest of the world about acting decently, generously and appropriately.

Good sportsmanship is an Olympic triumph in itself. The world won’t soon forget this moment.