Olympians honored beyond the podium


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Nikki Hamblin (left) encourages Abbey D’Agostino to the finish line earning both competitors Fair Play awards from the International Fair Play Committee.

The best stories don’t always end with a gold medal. As the Rio de Janeiro 2016 summer Olympics have concluded, those who missed out on the gold still have stories to tell.

While the Olympics are an arena for athletic competition, participants have done more than just show off their physical prowess. True Olympic spirit was on display in one Track and Field event, as New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and United State’s Abbey D’Agostino competed in the 5,000m qualifying race. A collision sent both athletes to the ground in considerable pain, but instead of scrambling to regain position, they picked each other up, with D’Agostino noticeably hurt.

“That girl is the Olympic spirit right there,” Hamblin said about D’Agostino to the Los Angeles Times. “When I turned around at the finish line and she’s still running, I was like, ‘wow.’”

Hamblin met D’Agostino at the finish line and the two shared a moment that captured the world’s attention. They ran together for awhile, then Hamblin encouraged D’Agostino to the finish. Both were presented with Fair Play awards by the International Fair Play Committee for displaying the true Olympic spirit.

All athletes have their share of adversity, but not all off it comes from the games themselves. Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini faced more than an injury on her journey to the Olympics. Escaping war in her home country of Syria, she and a number of other refugees steered their boats across the Aegean Sea to Lesbos. Her story resulted in one of the most anticipated Olympic debuts this year.

“I want to show everyone that after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days,” Yusra said in an Olympic press conference during the games.

Representing the first ever refugee team, she competed in the 100 meter freestyle and butterfly swimming events. Mardini did not qualify for the semi-finals, but shared her story with millions to inspire and give hope to those who may be in a similar situation.

Books only record the results of the events; numerical scores don’t express every facet of the Olympic champions that inspire millions every four years. Some competitors show feats of strength that surpass measurements, and that is what makes them champions.