Monday, August 22, 2016

A Well-Earned "Well Done!"

The International Olympic Committee gets so many things wrong, it is a pleasure to report when it gets something right. It awarded its regular "Fair Play Awards" s to American runner Abbey D'Agostino and New Zealander Nikki Hamblin.

Hamblin and D'Agostino were in a preliminary heat for the women's 5000-meter run when they became entangled with each other and fell down. D'Agostino helped Hamblin up and encouraged her to finish the race, even though the fall meant that neither of them would be likely to place high enough to advance. Hamblin in turn had to help D'Agostino, who had injured herself in the fall. The American runner collapsed again and told Hamblin to continue, only later to force herself to get up and run through her own pain to cross the finish line, nearly two full minutes after the race leader.

Earlier reports confused the Fair Play Award with the Pierre de Coubertin medal, which is not given out in every edition of the games but which also honors great sportsmanship and Olympic service. It wouldn't be the worst thing to do, to help draw some more positive attention to a Games that was very shiny with wonderful stories on the outside but possessed of some of the same rottenness on the inside as always, as well as a few new wrinkles in that department.

Interestingly, although many writers wondered in their stories about the two women's motivations, few seemed to have actually wondered that to either of the women themselves. I couldn't find anything in which Hamblin was asked that much about what caused her awesome display of honor and respect, but at least one news outlet was able to get D'Agostino to talk about why she did unto others as she did.

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