She may not have walked away with an Olympic medal, but local athlete Abbey D’Agostino is not leaving Rio without some major recognition.
The Topsfield runner made waves around the world when she helped lift fellow competitor Nikki Hamblin off the track during a 5,000-meter race last week. Hamblin’s stumble brought D’Agostino to the ground and injured her pretty severely (a torn ACL, she later learned), but she helped pick the New Zealand Olympian up and encouraged her to finish the race, which both did.
It was heralded as a moment of pure sportsmanship, that kind of international spirit of togetherness and friendly competition that the Olympics—setting aside its controversies, price tag, and problematic legacy for a minute—are supposed to be all about.
So now D’Agostino is heading back to Massachusetts with one of the International Olympic Committee’s Fair Play awards, given to athletes who, according to the IOC website, “acts of selflessness and exemplary sportsmanship.”
Hamblin also got one, as did the men’s handball team from Norway, which decided not to protest after a German team bested them with an extra player on the field during a pre-Olympics matchup.
The honors are awarded by the International Fair Play Committee with help from a jury that considers input from media, athletes and Olympic organizers, and also this year employed “an extensive use of social media to receive nominations from the public world-wide.”
The athletes accepted the awards over the weekend.
“The Olympic Games are about more than the win, the medals or the record-setting performance,” the IOC writes. “At their core, the Games are about the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. They are about fair play and human spirit.”
Hamblin had this to say about D’Agostino after the award-giving ceremony, according to the IOC:
I am so grateful to Abbey for picking me up, and I think many people would have returned the favor. … Once you are on the track, there is a mutual understanding of what it takes to get there.
Although both runners were granted special exemptions and allowed to compete in the final, D’Agostino was badly injured enough that she skipped the race. Hamblin finished 17th.
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