RIO DE JANEIRO • Two Olympic athletes who helped each other across the finish line after an accidental mid-race collision in the women's 5,000m heats have been granted places in tomorrow's final, organisers confirmed yesterday.
New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D'Agostino of the United States were praised for their sporting behaviour after they clashed during Tuesday's heat.
The drama unfolded when D'Agostino clipped Hamblin with around 2,000m to go, sending both sprawling to the ground.
As Hamblin lay on the track distraught, her hopes for an Olympic medal seemingly evaporated, D'Agostino helped her to her feet and encouraged her to finish the race.
"I went down, and I was like, 'What's happening? Why am I on the ground?' " Hamblin recalled.
"Then suddenly this hand was 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.'
DON'T GIVE UP
Suddenly this hand was 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.'
NIKKI HAMBLIN, New Zealand runner, on being encouraged by the United States' Abbey D'Agostino after the duo collided and fell during their women's 5,000m heat.
MOMENT TO CHERISH
I'm not going to remember where I finished, I'm not going to remember my time... but I'll always remember that moment.
"I'm so grateful (to) Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I've never met her before, isn't that just so amazing?"
D'Agostino suffered an ankle injury in the collision and faltered as a result but Hamblin deliberately hung back in the field to offer encouragement as the two women completed the race.
"If I can even give her like 1 per cent back of what she gave me when she helped me get up off the track, that would be amazing," Hamblin said. "I can't even put into words how amazing it is that she actually finished.
"When I turned around at the finish line, and she's still running, I was like, 'Wow'."
Speaking to New Zealand's Breakfast radio host Mike Hosking, Hamblin said the moment of kindness was not what she expected when she prepared for Rio.
"When I look back on Rio 2016, I'm not going to remember where I finished, I'm not going to remember my time... but I'll always remember that moment," she said.
They were the last two finishers - Hamblin in 16min 43.61sec, D'Agostino 26.41sec behind - and embraced closely before D'Agostino was taken away in a wheelchair for treatment.
The pair were lauded on social media for their sportsmanship.
Although they failed to meet the qualifying time for the heat, a statement by Olympic organisers said that both have been included in the final, after protests from their teams.
Austria's Jennifer Wenth was also allowed to advance as she was impeded in the collision. Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana was the top qualifier, finishing in 15:04.35.
It is unclear at this stage whether D'Agostino will be fit to compete.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS