21 Dec 2016

Hamblin doesn't want career defined by Rio helping hand

11:22 am on 21 December 2016

Middle distance runner Nikki Hamblin provided one of the most memorable moments of 2016 and the Rio Olympics but its one she's struggled to come to terms with in many respects.

Hamblin and American runner Abbey D'Agostino both fell after colliding in the 5000m heats but then helped each other to the finish line despite D'Agostino suffering a serious knee injury.

The pair's sporting kindness gained international media attention and they both received an international fair play award.

Four months on from the event Nikki Hamblin believes the incident has made her re-evaluate things.

Nikki Hamblin, right, and Abbey D'Agostino after Hamblin fell during the 5000m Round 1 race at Rio.

Nikki Hamblin, right, and Abbey D'Agostino after Hamblin fell during the 5000m Round 1 race at Rio. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After missing out on the London Olympics 2012 due to injury Hamblin became obsessed with qualifying for Rio which she says meant she didn't celebrate success along the way.

"I didn't celebrate when I won a national title. I didn't really celebrate when I got named in the Olympic team. It was just going through and ticking boxes.

"Something good has come out of something that shouldn't have been good, I mean, I fell over at the Olympics, no-one wants that to happen!'"

Hamblin said it also been a strange experience doing speaking engagements about her Olympic experience.

"If you win a medal or you have a great performance that's something that's easy to talk about...whereas I don'f feel as if I particularly did anything special. Lots of people would have done the same in my situation - if that happened in the street you would help someone up, but it was just because of the setting at an Olympic Games and there happened to be a few hundred TV cameras."

Hamblin said she has been in email contact with D'Agostino since and both have taken a lengthy break from running, with D'Agostino requiring surgery on her knee.

Athletes Nikki Hamblin, left, and Abbey D'Agostino

Athletes Nikki Hamblin, left, and Abbey D'Agostino Photo: RNZ

"I still find it quite traumatic to watch.... I don't even think I have fully watched the whole thing and I still don't really remember what happened."

Hamblin said she hopes her career isn't defined by the Rio moment but senses that might be the case.

"If I won a medal at a world champs or an Olympics I don't know if it would get the same attention just because I guess what happened was so different. I don't personally see this as being my defining moment on the track. (I hope) to have many more moments to come."

Hamblin has enjoyed her three months away from running and being a "normal person."

"I just started running a couple of weeks ago and running is really hard when you are not fit!"

"As an athlete you end up in a bubble and your whole life and other people's lives around you end up revolving around training and I wanted to step outside of that and experience the real world."

The 'real world' for Hamblin has been weekend sleep-ins and a Wednesday wine club with friends where lycra is banned and so is talk about running.

But running can never be far away for Hamblin looking ahead to 2017 where the world track and field champs in London loom large but even more important to her is the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

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