When Abbey D'Agostino was tripped in the first round of the 5000m run on Tuesday, the immediate reaction was to praise her tremendous sportsmanship. The 24-year-old didn't harbor a grudge after the fall, instead embracing Nikki Hamblin, the New Zealand runner she had tangled up with.
It turns out, everyone should also have been talking about what a tremendous badass she is.
D'Agostino suffered severe damage to her right knee in the fall, tearing her ACL and meniscus while straining her MCL with approximately 2,000 meters left in the race. Despite having very little stability in one leg, she still managed to finish the final five laps and record a time of 17:10.02. To put that in perspective, the American runner was still fast enough to win most local 5Ks despite an injury that essentially limited her to one leg for the final 40 percent of the race.
Since the fall was not her fault, she was advanced into Friday's event final. Unfortunately, the injury means we've seen the last of the young American distance runner in Rio de Janeiro. This was D'Agostino's first Olympics, but it's unlikely to be the only appearance for the 2013 NCAA Cross Country individual champion. Based on a statement she gave to the press, she's not letting the unfortunate circumstance of her exit bring her down.
"There was about 2k to go, I was still feeling controlled, and was mentally preparing to focus and maintain contact with the lead group for the final grind," said D'Agostino. "Then in a split second, there was a woman on the ground in front of me, I tripped on her, someone behind me tripped on me, and I was on the ground. 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."