Rio 2016: D'Agostino completed 5000m with torn ACL


It was perhaps the most heart-warming moment of the Rio Games so far, the sight of American 5000 metre runner Abbey D'Agostino helping opponent Nikki Hamblin to her feet after a collision - but the story goes even further.

After both took a tumble on the fourth lap on Tuesday, D'Agostino was first to get to her feet and she rallied New Zealander Hamblin to join her.

But it soon became apparent that D'Agostino had sustained the more serious injury, as she buckled and fell back to the track.

With their roles reversed, this time it was Hamblin urging her rival to continue and both finished the race, earning a place in the final following an appeal.

Incredibly, it was revealed on Wednesday that D'Agostino had run the last 2000 metres with a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament, a meniscus tear and a strained medial collateral ligament.

Speaking the day after the incident, both athletes having drawn widespread praise for embodying the Olympic spirit, 24-year-old D'Agostino - now ruled out for the remainder of the season - recalled how it unfolded.

She said in a statement: "There was about 2k to go, I was still feeling controlled and was mentally preparing to focus and maintain contact with the lead group for the final grind.

"Then in a split second, there was a woman on the ground in front of me, I tripped on her, someone behind me tripped on me, and I was on the ground.  

"Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalised it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way.

"This whole time here He's made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance - and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it."

D'Agostino lauded the experience of being involved in her first Games and expressed hope that the true ideals of the Olympic movement might provide an inspiration to others.

"By far the best part of my experience of the Olympics has been the community it creates, what the Games symbolises," she added.

"Since the night of the opening ceremonies, I have been so touched by this - people from all corners of globe, embracing their unique cultures, yet all uniting under one celebration of the human body, mind, and spirit.

"I just keep thinking about how that spirit of unity and peace is stronger than all the global strife we're bombarded with and saddened by on a daily basis."

Hamblin, who is set to take part in Saturday's final, said after the race: "I'm so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there.

"I've never met her before, like I've never met this girl before, and isn't that just so amazing? Such an amazing woman.

"Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that's a moment that you're never ever going to forget for the rest of your life, that girl shaking my shoulder, like 'Come on, get up'."