Historically, the Olympics are as divisive as they are unifying. Issues become political and personal attacks against athletes go beyond their performance. The backlash against American gymnast Simone Biles for briefly stepping away from competition due to mental stress is an example of the hostility surrounding the Games.
Two runners, Isaiah Jewett from the USA and Botswana’s Nijel Amos, embody the opposite of Olympic negativity. During the men’s 800-meter semifinal on Sunday, it appeared as if Amos accidentally clipped Jewett on the back of his foot, causing Jewett to lose his balance and fall. Amos also dropped to the track, unable to maintain his balance. It took place on the final lap, with Jewett in third place at the time, with Amos directly behind him.
Jewett, 24, from Inglewood, California, didn’t react with anger as his dreams of Olympic gold were over. Nor did Amos, the 2012 silver medalist in the 800 at the Rio Olympics. Instead, in an act of kindness, forgiveness and sportsmanship, they helped each other up. It was a kumbaya moment.
As they rose to their feet, Amos, 27, apologized to Jewett. They both composed themselves afterwards. Despite his obvious disappointment, Jewett put his arm around Amos and they walked to the finish line together.
“It was devastating, I’m not going to lie,” said Jewett after the race. The only thing left at that moment was to finish the race. “I knew, if anything, just me, I always have to finish a race,” Jewett said.
Taking us through their moment, he noted, “I got Nijel up as well, because I could see that he was devastated, and I was like, ‘Come on, man.’” Both men showed a determined spirit. “I was like, ‘Let’s just finish the race.’”
After a review by race officials, it was determined that Jewett had actually been responsible for the fall when he accidentally kicked Amos in the course of his natural leg motion. As a result, Amos was reinstated and moved on to yesterday’s 800-meter final.