On Tuesday morning, the qualifying heats began in Rio for the women's 5,000-meter race. When a collision brought down two runners, the world gasped. But then, something incredible happened...
American runner Abbey D'Agostino stopped to make sure that her competitor, Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand, was getting up to finish the race. Hamblin did get up and finish, turning back to help D'Agostino when it became apparent that she had been injured in the collision.
Although neither D'Agostino nor Hamblin finished in the qualifying positions, judges granted them spots in the final race — but because of her injury, D'Agostino will be unable to race.
On Wednesday D'Agostino commented on the incident, saying that her coach had prepared her for such a moment:
"My coach even said, 'If you go down…get up, dust [yourself] off, have a quick look around and then get right back to running.'”
But then she said that she believed that God had prepared her for that moment:
"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 rationalized 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.
By far the best part of my experience of the Olympics has been the community it creates, what the Games symbolizes. 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."
And D'Agostino's simple act of kindness toward a complete stranger has led to a fast friendship:
Hamblin noted after the race that D'Agostino was the embodiment of the true “Olympic spirit”: “I mean that girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’m so impressed and inspired that she did that. I’ve never met her before. And isn’t that just so amazing?”