For colliding into each other, Abbey D’Agostino (US) and Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) lost precious time and finished last in the women’s 5,000-meter race event at the Rio Olympics but because of the extraordinary way they handled the situation, both went home with special medals that only had only been given out 17 times in the Olympics: special medals for sportsmanship!
It can be recalled that midway through the race, Hamblin fell after clipping the heel of the runner in front of her. D’Agostino who was following closely behind her also tripped.
Instead of leaving the collapsed Hamblin on the tracks for the medics to deal with (as what most players are wont to do in such a big race event), D’Agostino stood up and encouraged Hamblin to stand up and continue with the race. At the time, she did not know that she had suffered multiple injuries from the fall.
As both ladies returned to the race, the injured D’Agostino collapsed.
Returning the earlier favor, Hamblin did not leave her behind. Instead, she went back and assisted D’Agostino up, all the while encouraging her to continue with the race and not giving up!
They lost a couple of minutes helping each other and finished last in the race; although they were given the chance to compete in the finals despite finishing last, D’Agostino was too injured to run the race and Hamblin eventually lost.
But the Olympic committee recognized their extraordinary actions on the track that day. Instead of thinking about winning the race, they sacrificed their chances by helping each other.
For such noble deeds, the two were awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin medal or the True Spirit of Sportsmanship medal.
While it wasn’t the gold that all athletes at the Olympics hope to receive, it is definitely “one of the noblest honors that can be bestowed upon an Olympic athlete”.
To date, since the medal’s inauguration in 1964, only 17 others have been given – including one to Vanderlei de Lima, one of the torch carriers in the opening of the Rio Olympics, who only won bronze in the 2004 Athens Olympics after getting attacked by a spectator.