Sports OLYMPICS

The 2016 Rio Olympics have come to a close with Americans earning 121 medals -- 46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze -- their biggest haul ever, not counting the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Games or the 1904 St. Louis Games, when hardly anyone else showed up.

Runners Abbey D'Agostino, Nikki Hamblin are the real winners in Rio

Abbey D'Agostino, right, hugs Nikki Hamblin after their women’s 5,000-meter event on Tuesday. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images)
Abbey D'Agostino, right, hugs Nikki Hamblin after their women’s 5,000-meter event on Tuesday. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

Distance runners Abbey D’Agostino of the U.S. and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand weren’t favored to win medals in the women’s 5,000-meter event. But they deserve some special and public recognition for the sportsmanship they displayed toward one other after they collided during Tuesday’s first-round race.

D’Agostino, of Topsfield, Mass., collided with Hamblin about 3,200 meters into the race, possibly because Hamblin had slowed her pace to avoid contact with another runner who was being lapped. D’Agostino appeared to hit Hamblin from behind and both fell to the track.

D’Agostino got up but saw Hamblin was in distress and paused to help her up. They tried to continue, but D’Agostino was in pain because of injuries to her leg. “She could hardly stand,” Hamblin said.

Hamblin then helped her up, but D’Agostino couldn’t resume running and told Hamblin to go continue without her. Hamblin finished 16th in 16:43.10, and D’Agostino limped to the line in 17:10.02. Following a protest, both runners were advanced to Friday’s final, as was a third runner who was affected by the collision, Jennifer Wenth of Austria.

D’Agostino was taken off the track for treatment, but Hamblin lingered and spoke to reporters afterward to praise D’Agostino’s kindness.

“I went down, and I was like, ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ ” Hamblin said. “Then suddenly, there’s this hand on my shoulder [and D’Agostino saying], ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this.’ And I’m like, ‘Yup, yup, you’re right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.’

“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before. I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing? Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that’s a moment that you’re never, ever going to forget for the rest of your life, that girl shaking my shoulder like, ‘Come on, get up.’ ”  

No matter what happens in the final, they’re big winners here. 

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