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Running a 5,000-meter race is a tremendous feat of athleticism requiring runners to make 12 ½ laps around a 400-meter track. To be competitive in such a race takes unbelievable training, stamina, and heart. But nowhere was the heart more evident than yesterday at the Olympic games in Rio when two runners collided and decided to help each other finish instead of competing.


In the eighth lap of the women’s 5,000-meter race, New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin was in a tight cluster of runners when she tripped and landed hard on Rio’s blue track. As she laid on her side, dazed and wondering how she fell, American runner Abbey D’Agostino, placed her hand on Hamblin’s shoulder and said, “Get up, get up! We have to finish this.” Although she had fallen in a collision with Hamblin, suffering a badly twisted knee in the process, D’Agostino got up first and was able to help her back to her feet. “That girl is the Olympic spirit right there,” Hamblin said of D’Agostino after the race had ended.

Not long after the two were back in the race and trying to catch up to the pack, the pain in D’Agostino’s knee was too much and she collapsed. But this time, Hamblin was there to grab her hand and help her back on her feet. Both women would end up finishing the race although nowhere near its winner, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana. After the event, Hamblin saw there was more to the race than winning or losing. “Everyone wants to win, and everyone wants a medal,” she said. “But as disappointing as this experience is for myself and for Abbey, there’s so much more to this than a medal.”

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