American Ajee’ Wilson advanced to the semifinals of the women’s 800 meters on Tuesday in Rio with a second-place finish. Immediately after the race, instead of thinking about her recovery or the next race, she took a moment to congratulate an opponent who finished in last place.
Wilson finished just behind the favourite, Caster Semenya of South Africa, picking up one of the two coveted automatic-qualifier spots in just under two minutes.
However, this is the Olympics, and not every athlete is there to compete for medals. Some are just there to compete.
More than a half-lap behind the leaders, Houleye Ba of Mauritania still had a long ways to go.
Nearly 20 seconds after the leaders finished the 2-lap race, Ba was just coming into view and was still nearly 200 meters from the finish line.
Ba eventually reached the finish line more than 43 seconds after the leaders, a huge amount of time in the 800.
But while most of the other runners had already started to walk off the track, Wilson walked back to the finish line to embrace Ba and congratulate her.
Wilson will now move on to the semifinals of the 800 and Ba will go home. But she leaves knowing she did something few people ever experience: she competed in the Olympics against the best in the world.
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