Abbey D’Agostino ’14 spoke about her faith in God as she announced Wednesday that the injury she had suffered the day before in a qualifying race would take her out of the Rio 2016 Olympic 5000-meter final.
But her story had already won her a permanent place in Olympic history.
It was not big news because an injury tragically cut short her chance to medal for Team USA, or because she finished the last mile of Tuesday’s race with injuries that turned out to include a complete tear of her right ACL, a meniscus tear, and a strained MCL, or even because, with all of those injuries, she finished with a time of 17:10.02.
It was because D’Agostino captured the imagination of the world with an act of kindness in helping fellow fallen runner Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand to her feet and encouraging Hamblin to go on.
Both runners were hailed the world over as the embodiment of the Olympic spirit. Social media and news sites lit up with the story. Even the New York Post, well known for its blunt headlines mocking corruption and hypocrisy, put D’Agostino and Hamblin on the front page over the bold words: AMAZING GRACE.
D’Agostino, too, spoke about grace Wednesday morning in a statement released by USA Track and Field: “Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way. This whole time here he's made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance—and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”
D’Agostino says she is grateful for her chance to play a part in spreading the hopeful message that is at the core of the Olympic ideal.
“By far the best part of my experience of the Olympics has been the community it creates, what the Games symbolize. Since the night of the opening ceremonies, I have been so touched by this—people from all corners of globe, embracing their unique cultures, yet all uniting under one celebration of the human body, mind, and spirit. I just keep thinking about how that spirit of unity and peace is stronger than all the global strife we're bombarded with and saddened by on a daily basis.”