Whether you win a gold, silver or bronze, winning an Olympic medal isn’t easy and is of course something to be extremely proud of. Even when an athlete has won medals in the past, it doesn’t take away from the amazing feeling of winning another. Take Michael Phelps shedding tears after getting #23.
However, his achievement of a gold medal is still beaten in rarity by another kind of Olympic medal. One that only a handful of people have won.
Only around a dozen of these medals have been presented to athletes, making it one of the most prestigious awards. Named after the founder of the modern Olympics, it is called the Pierre de Coubertin medal. It honours athletes who are seen to symbolise sportsmanship or have made a particularly noteworthy contribution to the games.
Athletes have won it for a variety of reasons, for example Vanderlei Corderio de Lima was presented one for his grace when his chances of winning a gold medal were shattered. The Brazilian marathoner was competing in Athens in 2004 when a spectator came out of the crowd to tackle him. This caused him to lose his lead and finish in third place instead. His response to the incident was “It’s bronze but means gold”. His dignified response led him to receive the Pierre de Coubertin medal.
The most recent example that could be reason for the medal involves Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin. The US and New Zealand runners help each other finish the women’s 5000 meter race qualifier.
Hamblin fell on the track, which led to D’Agostino to trip over her, however instead of carrying on running, the US athlete stopped to make sure the rival could get up and continue the race. D’Agostino went onto fall, revealing that she had injured herself and this time Hamblin stopped to help. The runners both managed to cross the finish line before medical help rushed in.
We’re yet to see if these athletes will receive the award, but regardless of whether they do or not, it’s great to see that even in a huge competition like the Olympics, helping each other is more important than winning.