The Olympic moment we’ve all been waiting for

As much as we love the Olympic athletes who are so skilled that they dominate their respective sport — Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, the U.S. men’s basketball team  — we also crave something else during these Games that go beyond the competition.

We crave that Olympic moment.

Yes, the quadrennial games are meant to be a fierce competition. And yes, for some countrymen and women, there is a personal expectation for them to honorably and successfully represent their country. Case and point: an Egyptian was ejected from the Rio games after he refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent following a Judo match.

But underlying the competitiveness is a spirit of sportsmanship. Of unity and bonding. Of determination and personal spirit. Sure, we’re all from different countries, but this is an opportunity to show the world that we can all get along.

Sometimes, it takes sport to show that.

D'Agostino Hamblin2

There’s a reason why the story of Derek Redmond is emblazoned in our brains. During the 400-meter semifinal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, he tore his hamstring and collapsed to one knee in pain.

Even while medics ran to attend to him, he leaped up and essentially skipped along the track on his one able leg to continue the race, even though all the other sprinters had already finished. If that wasn’t inspirational enough, his father emerged from out of no where to help his son, who at this point was bawling in tears, to finish the race.

Had Derek Redmond won that race in routine fashion, no one would remember him. But because of the unique circumstances of his last-place finish (in fact, he was disqualified because he received outside aid) he will never be forgotten.

Well, it wasn’t quite Redmondesque, but we had a similar moment on Tuesday during the women’s 500-meter race.

With two kilometers remaining (about 1.25 miles), Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand accidentally tripped one another up and fell hard to D'Agostino Hamblinthe ground.

At that point, their fate was sealed. Neither would win.

D’Agostino got back up first. Hamblin remained on the ground, distraught.

But the American urged her on. “Get up. We have to finish this,” she told her. Hamblin got to her feet, and the women ran together before D’Agostino collapsed. Hamblin tried to return the favor and help her up, but it was obvious that D’Agostino was seriously hurt.

Hamblin continued on, and somehow, D’Agostino also finished despite tearing her ACL. But who was waiting to give her a hug at the finish line? Hamblin.

The story has captured the hearts of people across the world. The two young women did not know each other before the race. But now their day-old friendship is the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

The Olympics really couldn’t have come at a better time. For the last week and a half, I’ve barely uttered the name Dona —

You know what. I’m not going to do it.

Anyway, since the fall happened in the heats, the two women amazingly would have both been able to race in the event’s medal round on Friday despite their poor finish times. D’Agostino is obviously unable to.

Hamblin, however, will race for the both of them.

Here’s another video of what happened overlayed with uplifting piano music.

Because let’s face it, everything is more uplifting when it’s overlayed with piano music.

The dive heard around the world

Now that the Rio Olympics has turned from water sports to track and field, viewers around the globe are tuning in to watch people run really, really fast.

But so far these races — both in the pool and on the track — seem to be marked by predictability. The people who are favored to win, well, have been winning.

What we needed was an old-fashioned, neck-and-neck duel to the finish line.

And on Monday night, we finally got that in the women’s 400 meters.

The race, a full revolution around the track, was nearing its end with sprinter Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas in the lead. But she was clearly fading, and the United States’ Allyson Felix — one of the more decorated women’s athletes in the last 10 years — was poised to pull ahead and steal the race.

But at the final moment, Shaunae Miller appeared to dive, or collapse — or both — and literally fell across the finish line.

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As I watched it live, I thought two things: Who the hell won, and is that even allowed?

Turns out that yes, it is allowed, and the climactic leap actually gave Miller the victory by seven tenths of a seconds.

Then I wondered, how is that even fair? I logged onto Twitter and saw hundreds of observers voicing the same thing, some even clamoring for Miller’s disqualification, saying that diving really has no place in an event that requires its participants to run upright.

For her part, Miller and her coach insist that the dive was unintentional — her legs simply gave out from under her as she tried to lean across the line, they said.

But 24 hours later, I have since learned two things. A runner hasn’t officially finished the race until their torso crosses the finish line (as opposed to the head, neck, arms, legs, hands or feet), and that diving actually slows you down. Research shows that you decelerate once you leave your feet, and that’s why you always see runners lean forward and stick their chest out during that final step.

Even Michael Johnson knows what’s up.

However, a perfectly timed dive can give you a slight edge, and that’s what happened on Monday night. It’s a risky maneuver, but can have a big payoff if done correctly.

Also, it hurts. It’s not like you’re diving into a ball pit at Chuck-E Cheese. Which everyone should do at least once a month. If they ask, tell them I sent you.

So congratulations to the Bahamas for earning a gold medal in what will almost certainly never be known anywhere else but on this blog as “The Dive Heard Around the World.”

Before I sign off, it’s worth noting that a Haiti sprinter named Jeffrey Julmis had an “epic fail” during the 110-meter hurdles semifinal on Tuesday night, apparently forgetting to jump as he approached the first hurdle. His leg barely even made it halfway over, and he and the hurdle, momentarily united as one, went sprawling onto the track.

Julmis disappeared from view as the rest of the race continued. It was cringeworthy to watch.

But to his credit, Julmis got up.

And he finished the race.

We all fall down sometimes. It can be embarrassing. But take a page out of Jeffrey Julmis’s book and get back up.