The games of the 31st Olympiad came to an end Sunday in Rio. There was celebration that the games turned out to provide us with thrilling competition. There was celebration that there were fewer illnesses than anticipated in the water, that there were fewer crime incidents outside the games than expected, and that there was no massive outbreak of the Zika virus. And there was celebration that Ryan Lochte had gone home.
Lochte actually came out with a “revised” version of his story on the same day that the White House announced their $400 million payment to Iran was “leverage” and not ransom, and the same day the Clinton Foundation announced they would not accept contributions from foreign governments or interests should Mrs. Clinton become president as that would be a conflict of interest (go ahead and snicker). Perhaps Lochte felt the timing of his statement might help his story get lost behind those of the White House and Clinton Foundation. No such luck. This story couldn’t go away fast enough for Lochte – kind of like his final kick in the 200m Individual Medley. Through a post on social media, Lochte said he should have been more “careful and candid.” I wonder if Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton were thinking the same thing.
Lochte’s antics took attention away from some truly great moments in Rio: Michael Phelps owning the pool; a tale of two Simones – Biles owning the floor, Manuel shattering a barrier in the pool; a sweep in the women’s 110m hurdles; the dominant women’s rowing team, and so many more memorable moments.
Yet, undoubtedly, the finest moment of the games had nothing to do with medals, but everything to do with mettle.
By now, most everyone has seen the dramatic images of U.S. 5,000 meter runner Abbey D’Agostino tipping and falling over New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who had fallen in front of her, during their qualifying heat. As you probably know, Abbey got up, and helped a distraught Hamblin up, then encouraged her to finish the race. “Get up,” she said. “We have to finish this.”
If you don’t know the rest of the story, there was a slight problem. As she started to run, D’Agostino realized her right knee wasn’t cooperating. Unknowingly, she had torn her ACL and meniscus, and strained her MCL. She collapsed in pain. But it wasn’t over.
D’Agostino got up and hobbled around the track and 17 minutes and 10 seconds later, she FINISHED THE RACE. At the finish line, she was met with a wheelchair, and an awestruck Hamblin.
Olympic athletes prepare for a lifetime for one brief moment to reach for the ultimate crown. It seems that Abbey D’Agostino had prepared for a lifetime for her moment, just the way it unfolded.
“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,” she said in the aftermath. “This whole time here He’s made it 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.”
Said Hamblin afterward, “I’m never going to forget that moment.”
Neither will I.