Rio Olympics 2016: Nikki Hamblin's family, club not surprised by her sportsmanship
Kiwi runner Nikki Hamblin's aunty said 'Nikki was just being Nikki' as she displayed tremendous sportsmanship at the Rio Olympics.
Hamblin had her legs clipped by American runner Abbey D'Agostino and they both stumbled to the track in the women's 5000m heat.
The pair were visibly distressed, but then helped each other back to their feet before completing the race to thunderous applause from the crowd in Rio's Estadio Olimpico, with D'Agostino unable to take another step after the finish line because of a leg injury. She left the track in a wheelchair.
The American was met by Hamblin after both finished the race last, and they embraced in what's become the feel-good story of this year's Olympics.
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Hamblin's aunt, Jane Scott, who lives in Cambridge as the runner does, believes her niece has lifted the gloom that's clouded the Olympics, with doping controversies grabbing the headlines prior to and during the Games in Rio.
"It's a little bit overwhelming. Everyone's got a good news story. There's been a lot of doom and gloom around the Olympics," she said.
"This is the feel-good story. Nikki was just being Nikki. That's what she's like. She puts other people first, so we're very proud."
Scott said Hamblin's act proved there were athletes who cared about more than just their own success.
Race referees reinstated Hamblin and D'Agostino, as well as a third runner also affected by the tangle, for Saturday's final (NZ time).
"The level they're at in the Olympics means the focus is on winning and doing the best that you can," she said.
"It's nice to know that some athletes out there are actually human. This was the human side of elite sport."
Hamblin, 28, moved to New Zealand from England in 2006 and gained citizenship in 2009 to compete in the world championships in Berlin.
She trains with the Cambridge Athletic and Harrier club and won two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, in the 800m and 1500m.
Club president George Chambers said Hamblin's act was in her nature, and he wasn't surprised about her stopping in the middle of the race to help another athlete.
Chambers revealed that Hamblin had been caught up in similar incidents in the past, which had left her 'devastated'.
"She is a highly respected member of our club. She has a very genuine nature, which means that she's not one who boasts. She doesn't talk about herself a great deal," he said.
"She's a quiet-natured person, but genuine underneath. She had an incident herself a couple of years ago when she was tripped and fell, and she was devastated by it.
"That was probably what made her make a snap decision and help the other athlete because of her past decision experience of a similar incident where she fell.
"And her immediate reaction was to turn and assist that athlete rather than carry on with her own race. That's a good example of the sort of person that she is."