New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin and US rival Abbey D’Agostino have each received the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin medal in recognition of their good sportsmanship in the heats of the 5000m at the Rio Olympics.
When Hamblin and D’Agostino clashed in the 5000m heats and fell to the ground, not many would have given them a second glance. After all, distance track running often involves these stumbles.
But what happened next became one of the iconic moments of the Rio Olympics, on par with Usain Bolt’s triple-triple and Michael Phelps’ triumphant conclusion to his enormous personal medal tally.
D’Agostino, quicker to her feet than Hamblin, helped get her off the turf, before she shuffled her way through 4 1/2 laps to finish the race, where Hamblin was waiting for her. D’Agostino had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament, traditionally a 12-month injury.
The two embraced at the finish line, where D’Agostino was wheeled out as she could no longer walk at all. Now, the International Olympic Committee has honoured the two runners by awarding them the Pierre de Coubertin medal.
The medal, only awarded 17 times in Olympic history, is reserved for athletes, volunteers or officials who are deemed to have demonstrated the Olympic spirit.
What a great decision for two great people. Yay.