A tumble with New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin may have led US runner Abbey D’Agostino to forgo her Olympic dreams, but that doesn’t mean she went without recognition.
The Topsfield native and former Dartmouth standout received a Fair Play Award from the International Olympic Committee this weekend, along with Hamblin, in an effort to showcase the pair’s sportsmanship.
“The D’Agostino and Hamblin story is one of humanity and sacrifice which has already captured the hearts of people across the globe,” IOC representatives wrote in a post on the organization’s website.
The uplifting moment came during the second heat of the women’s 5,000 meters at Olympic Stadium last Tuesday.
In the middle of the pack, D’Agostino and Hamblin got tangled up when D’Agostino clipped Hamblin from behind. Hamblin tumbled down and D’Agostino went with her as collateral damage.
But without hesitation, D’Agostino, the former Dartmouth standout, got up to help Hamblin, who was sprawled on the ground.
“When I went down, I was like, ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ ” Hamblin said. “And suddenly there’s this hand on my shoulder like, ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this.”
Then after D’Agostino realized she had hurt her ankle in the fall, Hamblin tried to help her continue.
She eventually had to leave her behind but waited at the line for D’Agostino to finish.
“I’m like, ‘OK, yep, yep, you’re right, it’s the Olympic Games, we have to finish this,’ ” Hamblin said.
“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. I mean, that girl is the Olympic spirit right there.”
The pair embraced at the finish, before D’Agostino was taken from the track in a wheelchair.
Both D’Agostino and Hamblin had been advanced to last Friday’s final by race officials, but D’Agostino was not able to run.
However, D’Agostino seemed to make the best of it, issuing a statement afterward noting that her Rio experience was “about more than my race performance — and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”
Norway’s men’s handball team was also honored for their decision in a match against Germany earlier this year, which led to the team’s forfeiting their Olympic dreams.