The Rediscovered Olympic Spirit: The Story of Abbey and Nikki
Olympics is the ultimate stage for athletes around the world. The ace athletes everywhere dream & practice long years for that moment of glory on the Olympic victor’s stand. Let alone win, it is a great privilege to be selected to represent one’s country and get a chance to compete against the top talents from other countries.
Olympics is the best place of display for physical prowess in combination with mental alertness. Every millisecond counts. Every millimeter is precious. Every ounce matters. It is all about swiftness, agility, precision, strength, and stamina . The world celebrates the gold medal winner. The limelight is on the record breaker. They all come to grab the gold medal, break the world record and stand tall for their country. They want to show the world how they can run faster, jump higher and shoot sharper. They show their strength and agility in wrestling and gymnastics.
Rio2016 Olympics was no different. More than 11300 athletes came together from 207 countries. As they earned the medals, emotions flowed freely: they cried, screamed, jumped, rolled or ran around the stadium. They were able to beat others and occupy the victory stand. It was all about achievement, success, fame, limelight.
Yet in Rio2016, the story of Abbey D Agastinao and Nikky Kimbal stood out like no other. They were celebrated for a totally different reason. Everybody applauded them. TV and radio channels across the world heaped praises on them. Social media was teaming with positive comments. Everyone emphasized that Abbey and NIkky rediscovered the “the Olympic spirit”.
Abbey and NIkki were in the heats for 5000m. They didn’t know each other. But somewhere on the way they hit each other and fell down on the track. Nothing unusual. That happens in track at times. For a moment, they were lost. Suddenly Abbey got up and instead of running to catch up on the lost moments, she looked over, reached out quickly and picked up Nikki. They started running and then Abbey had severe pain and she limped and fell down. She urged Nikki to go on and save time. But Nikki didn’t. She returned the favor this time and picked up Abbey up and they ran. They were nowhere near the timing to get into the finals. But the world was watching. Everybody was stunned by this unbelievable, spontaneous display of concern for the competitor, the outpouring of genuine care without even caring about one’s own condition.
At that moment, they showed the world, that “it is nice to be important but it is more important to be nice”. They told the world that “you can be both a competitor and kind and responsive at the same time."
For sometime the chatter about world records, medal tallies, and cheating stopped.
Everybody was talking about the fabulous example this duo displayed so gracefully, so impulsively.
When they woke up that day to compete, they never thought they would have a historic moment like this. None of us also wake up for such moments. We are all in the fast track to win, to get past others. But for each of us, such moments will present once in a while, where we can show an unrehearsed act of kindness, spur-of-the-moment thoughtfulness. It might be an occasion to open the door for somebody, or let another person jump through the queue, vacate the seat for a woman with a child. But most of us may not even recognize such an opportunity because we are all focused on our own life’s troubles and dreams.
Abbey and Nikki were awarded a medal that surpassed the triple-triple of Usain Bolt and the 23 medal record of Micheal Phelps. This award, the Pierre de Coubertin medal, was only awarded 17 times in Olympic history and is reserved for athletes, volunteers or officials who are deemed to have demonstrated the Olympic spirit. Abbey and Nikki picked up the medal when they picked up each other on the tracks.
Abbey had to undergo surgery and may never be able to compete in another Olympics or in fact in any competitive sports. However, for Abbey and Nikki, it was not what they accomplished in terms of faster, higher, longer measurements. The Olympics sized big heart of consideration, compassion and concern for the fellow human being is what brought them the coveted medal.
Olympics is an event that happens once in four years. It is unique because this is the only event on planet Earth where the maximum number of people from all the countries come together to find out who is the best among them. They compete against each other, in the same pitch, on the same track trying to outsmart each other. But at the end of it, they are still able to shake hands with each other and retreat in grace.
At a time where hundreds of armed conflict zones exist across the world where men are killing each other, Olympics spirit stands out. The athletes from enemy countries are willing embrace each other and shake hands. How good it would have been if we had Olympics games across the world every year and we celebrate each other. If that happens, this world of ours – where we are killing each other - would be progressing much more. We would be making heaven on earth!