THE OLYMPIC GAMES ARE ABOUT MORE THAN THE WIN, THE MEDALS OR THE RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCES. AT THEIR CORE, THE GAMES ARE ABOUT THE OLYMPIC VALUES OF EXCELLENCE, FRIENDSHIP AND RESPECT. THEY ARE ABOUT FAIR PLAY AND HUMAN SPIRIT.
Nobody has epitomised these values more at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 than runners Abbey D’Agostino (USA) and Nikki Hamblin (NZL) and, beyond the Games, the Norwegian men’s handball team. The International Fair Play Committee (CIFP), with the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), presented them with Fair Play awards today at the Olympic Club in the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro for two separate acts of selflessness and exemplary sportsmanship.
The D’Agostino and Hamblin story is one of humanity and sacrifice which has already captured the hearts of people across the globe. New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin tripped and fell to the ground during the 5,000m race, accidentally bringing American D’Agostino down behind her with around 2,000m to go. The 24-year-old D’Agostino was quick to get up again, yet instead of carrying on with her race she stopped to help the stricken Hamblin to her feet, encouraging her to join her in attempting to finish the race. However, during her tumble, D’Agostino suffered an ankle injury, slowing the runner down, but Hamblin sportingly hung back to in return offer her encouragements. The two women went on to complete the race together.
Speaking of this recognition after the ceremony, 28-year-old Nikki Hamblin said: “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.”
She added: “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.”
The Norwegian men’s handball team was also honoured for its gracious attitude during a European championship match against Germany earlier this year, which saw them lose out on their Olympic dream. The match was tied when at the last minute the German team scored a goal. It was discovered that when the goal had been scored an extra player had come onto the field. Although the Norwegian team had every right to file a protest, after much deliberation, they finally opted not to contest the results as they felt that the additional player on the field, though illegal, did not partake in the activities that helped the German team score the final goal. Germany went on to qualify for the Olympics, while the Norwegians did not.
“This is an honour for the Norwegian Handball Federation and for the players,” commented the President of the Norwegian Handball Federation Kaare Geir Lio. “It is also recognition for international handball, of how we want to play, and of how we want to be. We have fair play as a value and keyword in Norwegian handball in addition to respect, amongst others. And those two together are very important for us. This award is very energising and inspiring for us.”
The trophies were presented by IOC Vice-President and Executive Board Member Nawal El Moutawakel and master of ceremonies CIFP Secretary General Sunil Sabharwal.
Nawal El Moutawakel said: “The Olympic Games Rio 2016 have reminded all of us of the power and magic of sport. In the past weeks, the athletes have amazed us with their outstanding achievements and performances. We have seen new world records, we have seen high-level performances, we have seen personal bests and we have also seen great emotions. We have also been inspired by great moments of sportsmanship. Athletes are inspirational role models, and it is these moments of fair play that we have come together to celebrate today.”