Why Two Runners, One From The U.S., One from New Zealand, Deserve A Gold Medal For Their Humanity

“In the Olympic preoccupation with winners and losers, in the mania for counting medals, it is easy to forget what really constitutes triumph.”

I wrote that in 1992, as the first sentence in my story about British runner Derek Redmond’s “excruciating and exhilarating” demonstration of the human spirit as he staggered to a last-place finish with a torn hamstring in the Olympic 400-meter final.

Those words came back to me immediately as I saw and heard and read about what befell U.S. runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin – and, more importantly, how they reacted to it – in a Tuesday morning heat of the 5,000-meter in Rio.

D’Agostino, like Redmond, will win no medal. USA Track & Field announced Wednesday that the serious knee injuries she sustained after a tangle with Hamblin will keep D’Agostino from running Friday’s final.

What D’Agostino has won is more important. She has gained the respect of the whole world because, at likely the saddest moment of her athletic career, she looked beyond herself.

And so did Hamblin.

Each deserves a gold medal for her humanity – and selfnessness that put a golden glow on humanity at large.