Throughout the Olympic season, we’ve seen everything from thrilling victories to epic bird-flips and from terrible TV coverage to penis sabotage. But even though the competition is fierce, the virtue is still there.
In an act of true sportsmanship, U.S. runner Abbey D’Agostino helped New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin to her feet during a women’s 5,000 meter preliminary heat Wednesday, after Hamblin tripped and took D’Agostino down with her.
During the race, it appeared that D’Agostino accidentally clipped Hamblin from behind, causing her to trip and both runners to go down together. The injured Hamblin lay curled in a ball until D’Agostino picked her back up, urging her to finish the race.
“Get up, get up! We have to finish!,” D’Agostino told Hamblin, according to ESPN. “This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.”
The two continued to run, but D’Agostino suffered from her injury through the duration of the race. The fall was the hardest on her knee, and the injury kept her from running well. But when Hamblin kept looking back to see if she was all right, D’Agostino urged her to keep going.
Both women finished the race, with Hamblin coming in next to last and D’Agostino behind her. Despite the slow finish, both will advance to the finals later in the week because of their accidental falls.
This is not the first time the Olympic Games has seen an example of heroic sportsmanship. In September 1988, a sailing competition in Busan, South Korea took a turn for disaster when strong winds caused the Singapore team’s dinghy to capsize, throwing Joseph Chan and Siew Shaw Her from the boat.
Canada’s Lawrence Lemieux was in second place at the time, and that would have been more than enough to ensure him a place in the medal round. But after spotting the Singapore shipwreck, Lemieux deviated from his course to rescue the injured men, pulling them from the water and waiting for a patrol boat to take them back to shore.
Although the rescue mission caused him to come in 22nd place, Lemieux’s heroic actions were honored. His position when he went off-course was reinstated, and he was awarded a second-place finish in the race.
Twenty-eight years later, that sense of Olympic camaraderie remains.
“I am so grateful to Abbey for helping me,” Hamblin told ESPN. “That girl was the Olympic spirit right there.”
The Olympics might bring us heart-pumping races and incredible moments of victory, but it also shows us what it means to be a human being.