RIO 2016: Olympic spirit on show after shock race fall

NEW Zealand distance runner Nikki Hamblin has been involved in a moment of true Olympic spirit.

Hamblin, 28, competing in the women's 5000m heats, tripped on the inside curb of the track with four laps to go, bringing her US competitor Abbey D'Agostino down to the ground with her.

Both athletes, clearly hurt and emotional, proceeded to take time to help each other to their feet to continue on with the race.

Hamblin and D'Agostino may have finished as the last two competitors in the field, but their embrace and shared tears at the finish line helped create a true illustration of the Olympic competitive spirit to the world.

D'Agostino was taken away in a wheelchair.

After initially failing to finish within the qualifying time both runners were added to the final after a protest from both the New Zealand and US teams.

Speaking on Mike Hosking Breakfast, Hamblin said she would remember the moment for the rest of her life.

 "It wasn't what I expected to happen when I got out of bed this morning... From my experience when I look back at the races I've done in previous years, you don't remember the performance moments, you remember the moments like that.

"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."

Asked if she felt like a hero, Hamblin said "no, not at all" and praised D'Agostino for helping her up.

Jennifer Wenth of Austria, the third runner affected, will also start.

Fellow Kiwi Lucy Oliver failed to qualify in her 5000m heat.

"I went down, and was like, 'What's happening? Why am I on the ground?' Hamblin told Olympic News media after the race.

"Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like 'Get up, get up, we have to finish this,' and I said, 'Yup, yup, you're right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.

"I'm so grateful for 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? Such an amazing woman.

"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'."

Originally from Weymouth in Dorset, England, Hamblin ran for the Dorchester Athletics Club before moving to New Zealand in 2006.

She gained New Zealand citizenship in 2009 just in time to compete for New Zealand in the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin.

In 2010, Hamblin became the New Zealand record holder in the 1500 metres and won the silver medal in both the 800 and 1500 metres at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

She achieved her personal best in 5000 metres of 15:18.02 in Palo Alto in California in 2015.

Hamblin lives in Cambridge and trains with the Cambridge Athletic Club.

Speaking to Radio Sport's Brenton Vannisselroy, Hamblin said she wasn't sure how the fall occurred and who was at fault.

"I'm disappointed for her. She seems pretty badly hurt. I'm grateful I've come away pretty much unscathed. It was a lonely last four or five laps.

"But I was thinking 'I have to finish. I have to keep going'."

"I'm don't exactly know what happened in the race I saw some movement ahead of me in the pack and I think it was a sort of chain reaction.

"I guess in a 5k in that standard everyone is going to be bunched. Everyone is going to be jostling for their place. It's the risk you take running at the back of that.

I felt it was the best move for me because I wanted to conserve energy.

"Not really the way I saw my Olympic Games going. But looking forward to another four years," Hamblin said before knowing she had made the final.

"I'll pick myself up and keep going forward."

The display of Olympic spirit has been creating headlines around the world.

The Daily Mail led with the story on their online site, asking: "The most inspirational moment of the Games so far? US and New Zealand runners HELP each other finish race after fall during women's 5,000m."

While USA Today called it an "uplifting moment" and website Bleacher Report said it was the "Olympic Spirit at its finest".

Those watching the poignant moment were quick to take to social media to praise the runners.

Nick Zaccardi tweeted: "What sportsmanship from Abbey D'Agostino and New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin." While Big Sport said on Twitter it was: "What the Olympics are all about!"

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