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Olympic Runners Who Helped Each Other After Falling Down Just Won a Major Honor

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The Pierre de Coubertin medal has only been awarded 17 times in Olympic history. On Saturday, New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino became the 18th and 19th recipients of the unusual award — but not because of their athletic prowess. Instead, they received the rare prize because they displayed an extraordinary act of sportsmanship,

The two were 3,000 meters into the 5,000 meter race when Hamblin clipped D’Agostino, bringing both runners down. D’Agostino convinced Hamblin to get back up — but it turned out D’Agostino was hurt. Together, they managed to encourage each other to finish the race.

The medal is also known as the International Fair Play Committee Award, and the two track stars were selected for the honor by a jury made up of members of the Committee for International Fair Play, the International Olympic Committee, fellow athletes and media representatives.

“The D’Agostino and Hamblin story is one of humanity and sacrifice which has already captured the hearts of people across the globe,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

A third Pierre de Coubertin medal was also handed out on Saturday — to the Norwegian men’s handball team, for their “gracious attitude” in choosing to abstain from filing a complaint after losing out in an Olympics qualifying match to Germany. Apparently, there had been one too many opposing players on the court at the time of the winning shot, but Norway decided not to pursue a complaint.


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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com