A quality above all others: sportsmanship

Two Olympic athletes take the gold medal in kindness.

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Savana Olivas '18

Sportsmanship is an essential aspect of athletics and everyday life.

Helen Innes, Writer

Sometimes when people think of the Olympics, winning medals might come to mind. However, what ever happened to the true importance of sportsmanship? One might argue that sportsmanship has been overlooked in past Olympics, as gold medal winners skip congratulating fellow participants in a race or doping scandals seize the headlines. The athletes and the public have been consumed by concerns of the zika virus, doping, and discolored water in the Olympic pools. However, people are missing the true ideal of the Olympics: representing your country and showing true sportsmanship.

When Abby D’Agostino (U.S.A) and Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) stepped on the track on Aug. 17, both women expected a hard fought semifinal 5,000-meter track race, no different than any other. Despite this, something amazing happened. Nikki Hamblin took a fall during the race after bumping into another competitor. Hamblin was sent tumbling to the ground in a close-knit field of powerful women in large metal spikes. With Hamblin on the ground, D’Agostino collided into her and fell to the track. In the blink of an eye, both athletes were on the ground and stripped of a chance of winning the 5,000-meter race.

Instead of just continuing to run the rest of the race solo with over a mile left of a 3.1 mile event, Hamblin instead offered D’Agostino an arm to lean on while getting up from the fall. According to Today.com, D’Agostino’s “first instinct was ‘OK, turn around, we gotta finish this.”

With a torn ACL that occurred during the mix-up, D’Agostino proudly finished the race with her new friend by her side. Even though the athletes were competitors, a certain kindness and respect took higher priority. The proud women finished the race, and, according to a rule made by the Olympic committee, the women were allowed to advance to the final despite not qualifying because of the tripping incident.

Sportsmanship can be easily overlooked in the excitement from a competition. However, the Olympics are traditionally centered around the idea: countries from all over the world coming together to celebrate athleticism, the wonderful talent that all humans carry. At rare times, when athletes may be introduced into a tangle during a race, they might do well to remember what D’Agostino had to say in a Today.com article: “It’s encouraging that a simple act of kindness just resonates with people. We see it and we know that that’s what this is about. That’s what the Games is about.”