AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The Rio Games have been plagued by setbacks, shortfalls and missteps.

In a women’s 5,000-meter heat on Tuesday morning, two competitors showed that the Olympic spirit can still shine through even when things go horribly wrong.

New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin stumbled and fell to the track while running, and American Abbey D’Agostino tripped over her and tumbled as well. But rather than get up and leave Hamblin in the dust in pursuit of her own goals, D’Agostino walked over to Hamblin and helped her off the track.

“I went down, and I was like, ‘What's happening? Why am I on the ground?’” Hamblin said. “Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this.’

“And I was like, ‘Yup, yup, you're right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.’”

Just as the two women started running again, D’Agostino fell back to the ground. It appeared as though her knee buckled after the first fall, and Hamblin went back for her to try to help her up again only to have D’Agostino urge her to keep running the final four laps. Hamblin crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 43.61 seconds and stood there waiting for D’Agostino to finish almost 30 seconds later.

“I can't even put into words how amazing it is that she actually finished,” Hamblin said. “She's hurt.”


AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The women, who had had never met before Tuesday, shared a hug at the finish line. D’Agostino needed to be helped off of the track in a wheelchair and was taken for examination.


AP Photo/Martin Meissner

“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,’” Hamblin said.

The referee reviewed footage of the fall and ruled that both runners will still advance to the final because neither was at fault for the tumble.

 “I'm never going to forget that moment,” Hamblin said. “When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years' time, that's my story.”