Abbey D’Agostino’s Story Only Gets More Impressive

She ran about a mile on a torn ACL, a feat called 'exceedingly unusual.'

Abbey D'Agostino

D’Agostino, right, with Nikki Hamblin. Photo via AP/David J. Phillip

Abbey D’Agostino deserves a gold medal in the sport of life.

As you likely know by now, the Olympic runner tripped over New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin during her Tuesday 5,000 meters qualifying heat, but managed to get up, pull Hamblin to her feet, and finish the race, despite obvious pain. The two shared a warm embrace and plenty of kind words after the race.

Heartwarming stuff all around, and it only gets more impressive. A Wednesday statement from USA Track and Field (USATF) shows just how much grit it took for D’Agostino, a Topsfield native and former Dartmouth standout, to cross that finish line. According to the statement, D’Agostino ran about a mile on a torn ACL, a torn meniscus, and a strained MCL. That’s no joke.

In fact, John Richmond, former chair of orthopedic surgery at New England Baptist Hospital, calls D’Agostino’s feat “exceedingly unusual.”

“Most ACL injuries, people have to get helped off the field,” he says. “It’s very uncommon that she’d be able to do that after tearing her ACL.”

Richmond, who is not involved with D’Agostino’s care, explains that the ACL, a central stabilizing ligament on the inside of the knee joint, tends to tear all at once, giving way immediately and quite painfully. As if that’s not bad enough, the joint then quickly fills with blood. Lovely.

That D’Agostino could soldier on with a torn ACL—and meniscus and MCL injuries, to boot—is a “testimony of her adrenaline and ability to push through pain,” Richmond says.

D’Agostino may deserve a gold medal for her pain tolerance alone, but, unfortunately, her injuries will keep her from Friday’s 5,000 meters final, despite being advanced to the event by race officials. It’s a sad ending for the 24-year-old, but she seems to be taking the whole saga in stride.

“By far the best part of my experience of the Olympics has been the community it creates, what the Games symbolizes,” she said in the USATF statement. “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.”