The Winners of the Rio Olympics Didn't Even Medal

Rio de Janeiro
by Matt Hershberger Aug 21, 2016

IN THE FLURRY OF STORIES THAT COME FROM the Olympics — Jackasses lying about robberies, famous athletes making weird faces, and entire countries cheating — it’s easy to miss what the Games are really all about: cooperation.

When it comes to cooperation, there are two clear winners in 2016. Their names? Abbey D’Agostino of the US and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand. The two were running in the first heat of the 5,000 meter race, when Hamblin tripped over someone and fell. D’Agostino was running right behind her and fell as well.

Hamblin stayed on the ground for a few seconds, “And then suddenly there’s this hand on my shoulder. Like, ‘Get up, get up! We have to finish this!'” She looked up and saw D’Agostino standing over her. D’Agostino had twisted her knee and was in pain, but helped Hamblin to her feet. Hamblin said after the race, “I was like, ‘Yep, you’re right. It’s the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.'”

But D’Agostino was in so much pain that she eventually collapsed again. This time, Hamblin stopped, sacrificing a chance at qualifying, and helped her to her feet. They both finished, though they had sacrificed their ability to advance. D’Agostino was taken off the field in a wheelchair.

After the fact, race officials decided that the fall had affected both of their abilities to qualify, and decided to let them both run in the finals on Friday. D’Agostino, unfortunately, tore her ACL, and wasn’t able to race.

This is what the Olympics is all about. It’s what being a human is all about: kindness, sportsmanship, and a willingness to give a helping hand where it’s needed. In the end, earning a medal was less important than being a kind and decent person. This, hopefully, will be the image that will stay with the Rio 2016 Olympics longer than any other.

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