Rio 2016: Awarding the Olympic Spirit


While the petition to get Abbey D’Agostino to serve as the flagbearer for the closing ceremonies did not work, D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin were honored in a different way by the Olympic community.

At the end of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the International Fair Play Committee and the International Olympic Committee awarded the International Fair Play award to these two athletes for their exemplary display of sportsmanship during the 5,000m preliminary round last week.

Hamblin was quoted in the press release with the following:

“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.”

There is also discussion of these women being in line for the Pierre de Coubertin medal, a rare award given to those who show exemplary actions of sportsmanship and fair play during and outside the Olympic Games.  The award has only been given to 17 people so far since its inception in 1964.  There are some conflicting reports that state they have already been awarded this medal, but New Zealand’s Olympic Committee says that this not the case as of August 22nd.  If they are indeed given this honor, D’Agostino will be the first American athlete and Hamlin will be the second New Zealand athlete to be ever awarded.

Still, it is not only an honor to receive any kind of award or medal from the Olympics, it is also an honor to be called out by name by the IOC President Thomas Bach as he cited them as one example of how they are an iconic story from this Olympic Games.  “We have seen (runners) Nikki Hamblin (of New Zealand) and Abbey D’Agostino (of the US) falling and helping each other to the finish of the race. And the quote of the American runner when she helped up her competitor, to say ‘Get up, we have to finish, this is the Olympic Games.’ I think you cannot better describe Olympic spirit and fair play than with this gesture and these words,” he said in his speech.

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