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Abbey Wins 5,000m, Placing 16th

D'Agostino Hamblin.jpgWith a gesture that will become part of the collective memory of the Rio Games (and the College’s sports history), Abbey D’Agostino ‘14 gave the world an Olympic moment when she inadvertently clipped a runner striding in front of her in the second heat of Round 1 of the 5,000 meters. Down went New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and so did Abbey. But Abbey didn’t leap up to continue the race; her concern lay with her fellow runner, and she stopped to help Hamblin. Both runners, though injured, finished the race.

Abbey ended up placing 16th, but she inspired the world with her instinctive kindness. NBC does not allow embedding, but you can view the event here.

Addendum: USA Today has a full account.

Addendum: The Times reprinted AP’s take on Abbey’s graceful support of a fellow athlete: Runners Help Each Other After Fall, Lifting Olympic Spirit:

In an Olympics that has seen a few unsavory incidents — the Egyptian judoka who refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent, the booing of a French pole vaulter by the Brazilian crowd — Hamblin and D’Agostino provided a memory that captured the Olympic spirit.

Olympic officials also decided that both runners, and Austria’s Jennifer Wenth, who was also affected by the collision, would have places in Friday’s final.

“I’m never going to forget that moment,” Hamblin said. “When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story … That girl shaking my shoulder, (saying) ‘come on, get up’.”

Addendum: An MRI has shown that Abbey sustained a “complete tear of the ACL, a meniscus tear and a strained MCL” when she fell in the race. After helping Hamblin, she started up again; she ran over a mile and finished despite her injuries.

Abbey’s coach, who was also her coach at Dartmouth, adds a sweet coda to the race:

“She did pretty much the opposite of what I told her,” D’Agostino’s coach Mark Coogan told USA TODAY Sports. “And I am so glad she did.”

Coogan has known D’Agostino for six years, ever since she joined Dartmouth as a freshman and he was the women’s cross-country coach there. From the beginning he marveled at her work ethic but also noticed her kindness. Everyone notices D’Agostino’s kindness. Talk to people she knows and the word leaves their mouths within the first sentence.

Under Coogan’s mentorship, she became the most decorated athlete in Ivy League history, winning seven NCAA titles. Over the years with Coogan, she would discuss race strategy, tactics, and yes, what to do if the worst-case scenario of a fall happened mid-race.

“I always told her, ‘if you go down, here is what I want you to do,’ ” Coogan said. “I told her to get up, dust herself off, have a quick look around and then get right back to running. Obviously she did pretty much the opposite of that, and the world got to see the kind of person she is. She did the right thing.”

Of course she did the right thing. She always does. At her training group — she is a pro athlete with New Balance — the rest of the squad often reacts to mental dilemmas by asking aloud “what would Abbey do?”

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