Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Rio Olympics 2016: Fallen runners Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D'Agostino hardly heroes - Chris Rattue

New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin greets United States' Abbey D'Agostino. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin greets United States' Abbey D'Agostino. Photo / AP

Spare us the Olympic spirit nonsense about Nikki Hamblin and the American runner she brought down. Has so much rubbish been written by so many so quickly in sport?

Scrambling for anything that might qualify as heart warming in Rio, the teary eyed raced to the scene like a fleet of towies going after the last illegally parked car of the day.

What actually happened?

Poor running by Hamblin, who tripped on the inside rail, saw her crash to the turf and Abbey D'Agostino - who was immediately behind Hamblin - went tumbling down thanks to the prone Kiwi.

D'Agostino then helped Hamblin to her feet. As they set off slowly, the American faltered and hit the deck again. What was Hamblin to do? Take off and leave her very own Good Samaritan floundering? So she returned the favour, and they helped each other home.

Nice, but hardly wow.

Since neither one of them had a hope in hell of doing any good in the race once they had fallen, it wasn't anywhere near the height of selflessness it has been portrayed to be. And what would the reaction have been had two male athletes been involved.

Harden up, men. I saw an NRL footballer give a helping hand to an opponent who had crashed into hoardings this year, and he got bagged for not getting back quick enough to defend the resulting 20 metre tap.

Good luck to both runners, but spare us the need for tissues. What does the Hamblin-D'Agostino incident represent? It's the over-selling of sport as something far more meaningful in life than it actually is. A couple of athletes get in a tangle, and hey presto, we've all been saved.

There are citizens who regularly perform more selfless acts - even in an affluent place like New Zealand - who will never get mentioned anywhere. The starving, the poor, the war ravaged, the disenfranchised on this planet - they won't be blubbering over this over-hyped Rio romance.

While Hamblin was crashing to wide acclaim, the hate mail was flooding in over the perceived failure of the track cyclists. It's a funny old world.

There are great Olympic stories in this day and age, about those who overcame the odds. British running star Mo Farah's is one of them. But Stumblin' Nikki Hamblin and Friend don't qualify.

Cycling posse
Judging by the comments coming in to the Herald, there is a posse out there with cycling in its sights after the so-called Rio failure. To my mind, our track cycling has proved that it is world class, even if it dipped badly against expectations in Rio. So don't give up on it now. If we are to fund our elite sport at the current level, cycling should remain near the top of the money tree.

There's a great facility in Cambridge, with tremendous knowledge and supporting science having been built up in a short space of time. Have faith, and the good days will return now and then. It is ridiculous to expect cycling (it scored more than $26m in this Olympic cycle) to churn out medals against such well-funded and classy opposition all the time. This is no time to cut the funding for a sport with outstanding recent success.

While cycling cops the flak, swimming dives under the radar. Swimming has been a dud for years. It got close to $8.5m in the latest Olympic cycle. That money would be better spent on kids swimming programmes and supporting beach lifeguards.

Highlight so far
The epic men's hockey quarter-final between New Zealand and Germany, when the Germans won by scoring two goals within the last minute. It was amazing sport and by showing the game in such a thrilling light, may have done more for New Zealand hockey than anything else in 40 years. Irony indeed.

Next best. Michelle Carter's amazing shot put under pressure, to beat the previously invincible Valerie Adams. Defeat is not disaster. And overall, the Olympics - for all of its faults - has been a lot of fun.

Sky love
Something to love...the new football channels on Sky. Yes, it costs an extra $12 a month. But for my money, it's well worth it and this coverage is far superior to what we got from Sky before Coliseum owned the rights for two years. The discussions and analysis on the new English Premier League channel is superb - adults discussing the sport they know and love in a very adult way. Amazing.

- NZ Herald

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