Rio Olympics 2016: Nikki Hamblin - has she or hasn't she won rare medal?

Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D'Agostino. Photo / Getty Images
Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D'Agostino. Photo / Getty Images

Confusion reigns over whether Nikki Hamblin has been awarded a prized Olympic medal in Rio.

News reports in New Zealand and overseas are claiming Hamblin has been awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin Medal which is reserved for athletes who have shown exemplary acts of sportsmanship.

The medal has only been presented 16 times since its inauguration in 1964.

Various media seem confused over the medal and another "fair play" award received on Saturday night in Rio by Hamblin after the dramatic events of last Wednesday's 5000m heat where the Kiwi middle distance runner was involved in a fall with an American rival.

The pair later assisted each other to finish the race.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee confirmed to the Herald this morning that Hamblin received an "International Fair Play Committee Award" in Rio on Saturday night and not the de Courbetin medal.

Several news outlets are reporting the award on Saturday night was the de Courbetin medal.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph is reporting Hamblin is set to get the award.

But the NZOC said today it "has no knowledge" of that claim.

The award was not made during today's closing ceremony in Rio, although Olympics boss Thomas Bach referred to Hamblin in his closing speech.

Bach cited what he called "iconic stories" from the Rio 2016 Games.

"We had athletes from Ukraine and Russia hugging each other and congratulating each other; we have seen athletes from North and South Korea taking selfies together," he said.

"We have seen (runners) Nikki Hamblin (of New Zealand) and Abbey D'Agostino (of the US) falling and helping each other to the finish of the race. And the quote of the American runner when she helped up her competitor, to say 'Get up, we have to finish, this is the Olympic Games.' I think you cannot better describe Olympic spirit and fair play than with this gesture and these words."

Nikki Hamblin's show of sportsmanship at the Olympics was of no surprise to those who know her. Photo / Getty Images
Nikki Hamblin's show of sportsmanship at the Olympics was of no surprise to those who know her. Photo / Getty Images

While Hamblin is still in the running for the medal following her assisting fellow 5000m runner Abbey d'Agostino after both fell in their heat, her plaudit on the weekend came from an international fair play committee comprised of representatives from the International Olympic Committee and selected athletes.

But it would be fitting if Hamblin and d'Agostino did receive the Pierre de Courbetin medal.

Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima shows off his actual Pierre de Coubertin medal. Photo / Twitter
Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima shows off his actual Pierre de Coubertin medal. Photo / Twitter

Former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga is the only New Zealander to have won it.

Umaga received the honour after he went to the aid of Welshman Colin Charvis, who had been knocked out in a 2003 test match in Hamilton. Despite the game going on around him, Umaga put Charvis in a recovery position and removed his mouth guard.

Hamblin received her fair play award at a ceremony at New Zealand's Olympic house in Rio with team officials and fellow team members watching on.

Hamblin said the honour was overwhelming.

"When we got up that morning, neither of us knew what the day would hold," she said, referring to the moment in the 5000m heat last week that saw both competitors fall and go on to help each other up, leading to their nomination for the award.

"Winning this award is overwhelming. I am proud that what we did and truly believe that you can be both a competitor and kind and responsive at the same time. Everyone comes here to compete but there are a lot of people who don't achieve that and the journey is really important too. That was one of those journeys and it has gone on to be one of the most important moments of my life."

"I hope Abbey's recovery is going well and I am really looking forward to seeing her again," she said of d'Agostino who had returned to the US for medical treatment following the injuries sustained in the fall. Hamblin went on to compete in the finals of the 5,000m last night at the Olympic Stadium in Rio, finishing 17th in a time of 16:14:24.

- NZ Herald

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