Rio 2016: Christian Abbey D'Agostino displays 'ultimate Olympic spirit' by helping competitor who fell

Nikki Hamblin helps Abbey D'Agostino after the two fell during the 5000m heat.Reuters

A pair of athletes have been lauded for embodying true Olympic spirit after helping one another when they fell during the 5000m qualifier in Rio on Tuesday.

New Zealander Nikki Hamblin fell during the race, tripping up US contender Abbey D'Agostino.

D'Agostino, who is a Christian, got back on her feet almost immediately, but rather than continuing the race, stopped to help Hamblin up.

The two began to run again, but D'Agostino fell again, apparently in severe pain. Hamblin responded by stopping to help her rival, and the two eventually finished in 29th and 30th place respectively.

Upon finishing, the two embraced.

"That girl is the Olympic spirit right there," Hamblin said of D'Agostino. "I went down and I was like 'What's happening? Why am I on the ground?'

"Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like 'Get up, get up, we have to finish this' and I was like 'Yep, yep, you're right. This is the Olympic games – we have to finish this.'

"I've never met this girl before, and isn't that just so amazing?"

Hamblin continued: "Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that's a moment that you're never, ever going to forget. The rest of your life, it's going to be that girl shaking my shoulder, like 'Come on, get up'."

Hamblin later told a New Zealand radio station: "When I look back on Rio 2016, I'm not going to remember where I finished, I'm not going to remember my time... but I'll always remember that moment."

D'Agostino regularly refers to her faith in Instagram posts, and last year tweeted fellow US athlete Chanelle Price saying her Christian faith was inspiring.

Meditating on this #tuesdaytruth - we are fearfully and wonderfully made... And it's awe-inspiring.

A photo posted by Abbey D'Agostino (@abbey_dags) on

She previously told podcast Running On Om that as a young runner she'd felt "burdened" by the expectations placed upon her as a successful athlete.

"I had to make this decision: what was I running for?" she said. She decided to "release those expectations" ahead of a big race, which she recognises as "a profound and spiritual moment" in her faith journey.

"Christian faith has always been a part of my life, but it kind of made this transition from something that was in my head, and something that I believed in my head, to something that I could really feel in my heart, and I felt like I didn't want to run for other people any more," she said.

"I wanted to run for something that was secure, and that was God. Something so much greater than me and something I can't control."

Despite not qualifying, both Hamlin and D'Agostino were given places in the 5000m final on Friday after their teams protested.

D'Agostino was led away in a wheelchair on Tuesday, however, and it is not known if she will be fit to compete.