I wasn’t sure whether it would happen, but it did. The Olympics had me completely captivated this year. There were so many compelling stories; the dominance of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, Brazil’s thrilling soccer win in front of their soccer-crazed fans, and of course stories of faith from what seemed like a surprising number of athletes.
It’s hard to decide on a favorite, but maybe it’s this one.
American runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin collided in the women’s 5000 meter run. Abbey tapped Nikki on the shoulder as she lay on the track and said “come on, we’ve got to finish the race.” She helped Nikki up but then Abbey’s knee gave out and she fell. Nikki thanked Abbey and then helped her up.
Here’s what Abbey says: “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 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.”
I can’t help thinking that these two women, who had been total strangers, will be friends for a long time. While I love the competitive nature of sports, I really love the greater lesson these two competitors have taught us. In just a few short moments, these two women exemplified Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
We hear a lot about the poor role models out there. I love how Abbey and Nikki have given us a chance to talk about generosity, grace, sportsmanship, compassion, and a perspective of what’s most important.