While an Olympic gold medal is an achievement athletes dream of, there is another prize which is also only awarded to a special, select minority.
Nikki Hamblin or Abbey D’Agostino did not win gold, silver or bronze in their respected event but instead have been presented with the Fair Play award, the only award of its type this Olympics.
The pair made headlines around the world and were heralded for capturing the “Olympic spirit” when competing in the qualifying heat for the 5,000 metres last week.
With 2,000 metres left to go, New Zealand athlete Hamblin tripped and fell, accidentally tripping up the USA’s D’Agostino too. The American soon got up and instead of running helped Hamblin before faltering on a clearly injured foot. D’Agostino later fell down again and so Hamblin helped her up and the two began to run the race together before embracing at the finish line.
Both runners were awarded places in the final but D’Agostino was unable to participate due to the injury she sustained. Hamblin came 17th in the race which was won by Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot who also set an Olympic record.
The Fair Play Committee, supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the pair have received the award for their acts of “selflessness and exemplary sportsmanship”.
Hamblin, 28, 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.”
The story of D’Agostino and Hamblin is not the only important non-sporting story to come out of the games. A selfie taken by two gymnasts, one from North Korea and one from South Korea, went viral as did various tales and back-stories of the refugee team - the first team of its kind to compete at an Olympics.