TOKYO, Japan — Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos were sprawled on the track next to each other, seemingly out of the running in the 800 meters.
Hurt or hard feelings? Just the opposite. The American and Botswanan runners were good sports.
Jewett and Amos helped each other to their feet, put their arms around each other and finished together Sunday in a semifinal heat at the Tokyo Olympics.
They were 54 seconds behind the winner. But in this case, time didn’t matter. It was the right thing to do, Jewett insisted.
Later in the night, Amos was reinstated into the final on appeal. Jewett remained out.
“Regardless of how mad you are, you have to be a hero at the end of the day," Jewett said. "Because that’s what heroes do, they show their humanity through who they are and show they’re good people.”
Jewett was in front of Amos and just about to go into his kick on the final turn when the back of his heel appeared to hit Amos. He went down. So did Amos.
But it may have been Jewett who inadvertently tripped himself.
“As he looked at me, he said, ‘I’m sorry,’” Jewett recounted. “I said, ‘It’s OK, man.’"
Said Jewett: “I am crazy about it, but that is 800. These things happen.”
Jewett has one simple rule when he's racing: Finish. He made sure Amos did, too.
“I’m super blessed because not a lot of people got to be here. I have to live in that moment, not the moment that just happened,” the 24-year-old runner from California said. “I'm able to go on to this stage and show you guys that this is me. That’s what I want to continue to do, to show who I am. If it wasn’t today, I’ll try again tomorrow. That’s not going to stop me from trying to be a hero.”
The friendly gesture was certainly appreciated by Amos.
“You are all united by emotion,” he said. "We felt all the emotion when we went down. When we stood up and just tried ... to get home.
"I thought I was in a good position to take this heat, and I can’t put words on it.”
He will have another chance Wednesday.
Jewett was banged up in the collision. He did fell hard to the track and believes he hit his head.
“It’s adrenaline right now that I’m standing and able to run around,” Jewett said. “I felt a little bit of spikes on my legs. I’m still living. I’m still walking. That’s all anybody can ask for."