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What a sport! Kiwi, US runners capture Olympics’ true spirit

Nikki Hamblin helps the injured Abbey D'Agostino to her feet after they fell in the women's 5000m heats. Photo Reuters

Olympics Day 10: She tripped her up. She helped her up. Then they ran to the line and hugged – and the world teared up. Macca's cracks down, a golden couple, Phelps' tax bill

What a sport! Kiwi, US runners capture Olympics’ true spirit

Kiwi runner Nikki Hamblin is making headlines around the world after what’s being described as “the moment” of the Games.

Hamblin, 28, competing in the women’s 5000m heats, tripped on the curb with four laps to go, bringing US rival Abbey D’Agostino to the ground with her.

D’Agostino, 24, got back up and helped Hamblin, who remained on the ground and appeared to be crying after falling hard on her shoulder. Hamblin then helped up D’Agostino, who had crumpled with an ankle injury.

Well behind the other runners, the two ran together, Hamblin staying by the limping D’Agostino’s side to help her keep going.

The pair embraced and shared tears at the finish line before D’Agostino was taken from the track in a wheelchair.

Hamblin said after the race, “Suddenly, there was this hand on my shoulder, like ‘Get up. We have to finish this’ and I was like ‘Yup, yup, you’re right’. This is the Olympics Games. We have to finish this.

“She was pretty bad. When I turned around at the finish line and she’s still running, I was like, wow.”

Both failed to meet the qualifying time – but New Zealand and American officials protested, and they were added to the final lineup.

Unhappy meals

McDonald’s Athletes Village restaurant has capped orders to 20 items a person after some competitors pigged out.

Kiwi rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond air last Thursday, posted a photo to Twitter after their gold-medal win showing a wide spread of the free burgers.

Usain Bolt shared a picture of his famous eight-pack next to a nine-pack of chicken nuggets.

Australian badminton player Sawan Serasinghe was pictured sitting behind a spread of food totalling more than 8000 calories.

But Saint Lucia sailor Stephanie Devaux-Lovell posted a photo to Instagram of the long queue at Macca’s with the caption: “Thought athletes were supposed to eat healthy?”

His … and hers

He’s got six golds, she’s got four. But that’s the closest that British cyclists Laura Trott and her fiance Jason Kenny come to equal rights.

Trott has sponsors falling over themselves. Kenny lives on his annual lottery grant as an elite athlete.

She is backed by Prudential and Adidas, has a range of bikes, and regularly receives gifts like a new Jaguar, Stella McCartney gowns and more.

Kenny has failed to attract sponsorship. “I would love to get paid more but if people don’t want to sponsor me that’s the way it is,” he said before Rio. “We are in competition with all these pretty athletes … people who I can never compete with from a marketing point of view.”

Winners at London and Rio, Kenny and Trott are young enough to compete in the next two Games. After that? Kids to go with their two dogs, she says.

Ka-ching!

Every time Michael Phelps wins another gold, the US internal revenue department rubs its hands. His income tax bill for the 2016 Games will run out at $US55,000 for five golds and one silver.

American athletes who win medals are paid $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 by their Olympic committee. Of course, they can also write off some or all of their massive training expenses as tax deductions, whether they treat their sport as a business or a hobby.

The medals are taxed, too. Based on the commodity prices of the metals involved, gold is worth around $600, silver about $300 and bronze next to nothing.

Don’t feel too badly for Phelps, though. His net worth is about $55 million.

Golden age

Anthony Ervin has become the oldest swimmer ever to win Olympic gold, the 35-year-old American winning the 50m freestyle by one hundredth of a second. It’s all the more remarkable considering he won the same event in Sydney 16 years ago.

“I kind of laughed. It’s almost absurd I was able to do it again,” he said.

Phelps is only 31. Maybe he could compete at Tokyo 2020. Someone should tell the tax man.

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