They say that a person’s true character is revealed when they’re in situations of distress.
In the Olympics, many athletes have fallen short of their goals. But despite that, many of them have also exemplified kindness and sportsmanship—even in the face of failure.
The world once again saw the brilliance of sportsmanship during the women’s 100-meter hurdles last week.
Luca Kozák of Hungary lined up two lanes removed from sprint hurdler Yanique Thompson of Jamaica. Both women jetted off the blocks once the signal went off, but midway through the race, they both tripped and fell to the ground at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.
Luca lost her balance and was unable to jump over the seventh hurdle. Devastated, she remained on the ground with her head in her hands, in tears as she mourned her loss.
At the same spot a few lanes down, Yanique had fallen mid-race as well. Other contenders continued toward the finish.
After a few seconds, Luca looked up and realized that Yanique was on the ground, too. She then got up, and in a beautiful display of solidarity, Luca extended a helping hand to her opponent.
Luca helped Yanique get on her feet, and the pair walked off the track by each other’s side.
The former’s gesture of goodwill earned applause from the 70-thousand person stadium. The Olympics’ official Twitter page also shared a snapshot of the emotional moment.
“This. This is what the Olympics are about,” reads the caption.
Luca later told M4 Sport that she had not anticipated this result. Although she had lost her chance at a medal, the athlete said that this will not be her last Olympics.
“This is what happens when I do not listen to myself, I just go forward,” she said. “I am overwhelmed with feelings right now, I did not come out here for it to end like this. But I will have another Olympics.”
In an Instagram post, Luca shared her thoughts about the event.
“I’m so glad I was here, even if I didn’t run yesterday as I would have liked,” she began.
“I also wanted to show myself what I am really capable of. It was really hard to get off the track yesterday like this, but I know it’s not this one run that determines what kind of athlete I am. I’m more motivated than ever and I know sooner or later, but I’m going to be among the best too!
Thank you very much to everyone who cheered, wrote a message, I don’t know how well they went. You are the best!”
Another similar story involves Olympic runners Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana. As they approached the final turn of the race, both fell hard on the tracks and tumbled over each other.
Instead of dwelling on his defeat, Isaiah helped Nijel get up. They shook hands and walked toward the finish line side-by-side, coming in 54 seconds behind the winner.
Even when they were down themselves, these athletes still managed to show such great sportsmanship. Kudos to them!