Controversial Olympic Moment Turns Into Sportsmanship And Spots In The Finals

PHOTO: morguefile.com

PHOTO: morguefile.com

In the Women’s 5000 meter race, two athletes helped each other out after an accidental trip and fall. Amazingly, they were both rewarded with spots in the finals.

New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin and American runner Abbey D’Agostino were 3000 meters into the race when Hamblin stumbled and fell accidentally tripping D’Agostino.  Hamblin helped the American back to her feet — but D’Agostino had injured her leg in the incident. When D’Agostino attempted to continue the race, she was unable to go on and she slumped back to the track seconds later. Hamblin stayed with her, helped her up and stayed by her side to see if she was ok. Hamblin resumed the race once she knew that D’Agostino was ok. She waited at the finish line to greet her as she stumbled to the end of the race.

Athletes help each other finish race

Fans in Rio applauded and cheered the display of sportsmanship. Both runners were complimentary of each other after the race and revealed that they had never met before the incident.

“That girl is the Olympic spirit right there.” D’Agostino said of Hamblin.

She added: “I went down, and I was like: ‘What’s happening? Why am i on the ground? Then suddenly there was this hand on my shoulder and she said: ‘Get up,get up, we have to finish this.’ I was like: ‘Yup. you’re right. This is the Olympics. We have to finish this.”

Both runners were awarded a spot in the finals of the event due to the circumstances of the race.

It is highly unusual for two athletes to be awarded a spot in the finals based purely on an accidental trip and fall and their show of good sportsmanship. I wonder what the other runners in the race who finished with better times and did not get a spot in the finals feel about that fact. If it were me, I’d be calling foul. Good sportsmanship is to be applauded, but it doesn’t win you the race.

Some might feel it refreshing that the two were awarded with a spot in the finals. To me, it seems unfair to the other athletes in the race who did not trip and fall. Part of finishing a running race is staying upright the entire time. If you trip and fall, that’s part of the race. Just ask Mary Decker after her 1984 fall. She was tripped by Zola Budd and it cost her the gold medal.

1984 women’s 3000 meter final trip and fall

She was not awarded on the podium and Budd was vilified as the person who cheated Decker and caused her to lose the race. This is a part of sports. Accidents happen. You shouldn’t get awarded with a spot in the final just for showing compassion.

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