US, NZ runners recognised with IOC fair play awards


Two 5000m runners who put their own ambitions to one side to help each other at the Rio Olympics have been honoured with awards for embodying the Olympic spirit.

Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand and American Abbey D'Agostino warmed the hearts of many with their sporting actions after an unfortunate incident in a women's 5000m heat on Tuesday.

Hamblin initially tripped with around 2000m to go, with D'Agostino then falling over her rival and both athletes crumpling to the track.

D'Agostino quickly got to her feet, but focused her attention on the stricken Hamblin rather than attempting to get back in contention, urging the New Zealander to finish the race.

It then became apparent that D'Agostino had actually come off worse. Yet as she pulled up in clear pain, Hamblin held back and offered encouragement.

Both were able to finish the race before embracing beyond the finish line - D'Agostino's efforts in completing the remaining laps quite remarkable given it was subsequently revealed she had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a meniscus tear and a strained medial collateral ligament.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have recognised Hamblin and D'Agostino's actions with the Pierre de Coubertin award - named after the father of the modern Games - for fair play and sportsmanship.

After receiving her honour, Hamblin said: "I think it's very special for both Abbey and myself. I don't think either of us woke up and thought that that was going to be our day, or our race, or our Olympic Games. Both of us are strong competitors and we wanted to go out there and do our best on the track.

"I was on the ground for too long to get back up and catch on to the pack. So then it becomes about finishing the race, and finishing the race well. I am so grateful to Abbey for picking me up, and I think many people would have returned the favour.

"Once you are on the track, there is a mutual understanding of what it takes to get there."

In a statement, the IOC said: "The Olympic Games are about more than the win, the medals or the record-setting performances. At their core, the Games are about the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. They are about fair play and human spirit.

"Nobody has epitomised these values more at Rio 2016 than Abbey D'Agostino and Nikki Hamblin."