American 800m runner Isaiah Jewett set out to be a hero when he stepped on the track for Sunday’s semifinal. But, the race didn’t go nearly as he had planned.
While rounding the final turn in good position to finish in the top two and move on to the final, Jewett and Botswanaian Nijel Amos inadventently fell. Both men laid on the track for a moment before turning to each other and helping one another to their feet.
Jewett then put his arm around Amos, and together, they finished the race.
“I always have to finish a race. I got Nigel (Amos) up as well. I could see that he was devastated,” Jewett said afterwards. “He apologized to me. I told him, ‘Let’s just finish the race man.'”
Amos let Jewett finish a step ahead of him, and Jewett and Amos crossed the line at 2:38.12 and 2:38.49, respectively.
Jewett explained what was going through his mind during the touching moment of sportsmanship:
“I learned from all the superhero animations I watch, regardless of how mad you are, you have to be a hero at the end of the day. That was my version of trying to be a hero. Standing up and showing good character, even if it’s my rival or whoever I’m racing. I don’t want any bad because that’s what heroes do. They show their humanity through who they are. They show that they are good people.”
Amos was advanced to the 800m final, while Jewett was not. Jewett believed he was clipped by Amos which caused him to trip, but the ruling indicates that Jewett was responsible for the crash.
Nevertheless, Jewett’s heroic actions in the moment will be remembered in Olympic history, with the image of two competitors embracing and finished the race a visual reminder of the Olympic spirit.
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