In one of Tuesday’s Olympic 5,000m semifinal heats, Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin got their feet entangled as both runners were making a move toward the front of the pack.
D’Agostino helped the injured Hamblin back to her feet and the two continued on. Hamblin appeared to recover from the fall a little better than D’Agostino as the American limped through her last laps to the finish. Hamblin stood waiting at the finish line and hugged a competitor she had never met before.
Distance runners are a special bunch. While they do compete to win, each athlete, no matter what the level, respects what it takes to get out there and punish their bodies the way they do. Oftentimes, finishing a race can be more important than winning it.
Here in St. Louis, we honor similar stories at the Musial Awards. In 2012, Meghan Vogel was recognized for her actions during a race when she literally carried a competitor across the finish line.
In the movie A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise’s Lt. Caffey says to a convicted marine, “You don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor.” The same is true here. You don’t have to be in Rio to have the Olympic spirit and you don’t need to finish first to be a winner.
Although…both D’Agostino and Hamblin filed protests, and because they finished the semifinal heat, they will be able to compete in the 5,000m final.