Middle-distance runners Isaiah Jewett from the U.S. and Nijel Amos from Botswana were in the home stretch at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 1, closing in on the frontrunner of the 800 meters semifinal heat. Then, as Jewett was about to go into his kick on the final turn, he went down. Amos, who was on his heels, tripped over his fallen competitor and tumbled almost immediately.
No matter what they did at that point, their dreams of earning medals had crashed, as well. The runners could have fought about who was at fault or gotten angry about the disappointing turn of events, but instead, they made a statement about sportsmanship. Helping each other to their feet, the men finished the race with their arms around one another.
NBC shared the moment on Twitter.
“After having their races cut short, Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos showed the ultimate sportsmanship,” tweeted @NBCOlympics.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 1, 2021
Both men were upset and apologetic.
Although the tumble left Jewett banged up, finishing the competition was important to both runners.
“I just knew that at the end of the day, I got to finish my race because that’s what my mom taught me,” Jewett told “Good Morning America.” “To always finish what I started because that’s what’s important in life.”
Amos and Jewett both attempted to appeal the results. Amos was reinstated into the final, but Jewett was not.
“I’m super blessed because not a lot of people got to be here,” Jewett told the Associated Press. “I have to live in that moment, not the moment that just happened … That’s not going to stop me from trying to be a hero.”
And while the tumble may have caused the runners some anguish, Amos found that it was also an opportunity for connection.
“You are all united by emotion,” Amos told the Associated Press. “We felt all the emotion when we went down. When we stood up and just tried … to get home.”