The Olympic Medal You Don’t Know About

The summer Olympics bring the best of the best around the world to compete in different sports for the chance to win a medal: a gold, silver or bronze. Since the Olympics have started, there has been a major focus on  the number of medals won by each country. This isn’t anything out of the norm. The count is broken down further by the specific number won for each kind of medal. We are aware, for example, that Michael Phelps has 23 gold medals. One thing we might not be keeping track of? There’s a fourth kind of medal that exists which not many athletes have earned.

The Pierre de Coubertin medal is given to athletes who show the true meaning of sportsmanship or who dedicate themselves to amazing services at the Olympics. Athletes of all sports have the common trait of being naturally competitive. The drive to be the best can be against other people or oneself. It’s one of the reasons athletes work tirelessly to improve every day, in order to have their best performance. But in the midst of all of the training and competition, sportsmanship is always important to remember.

the Pierre de Coubertin medal winner

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There have only been a dozen or so of these medal given out by the International Olympic Committee. It continues to be an honor to be awarded one. An athlete that famously won the de Coubertin medal is Brazilian marathoner, Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima. At the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, he was leading the event when a spectator jumped out from the crowd and pushed him off of the course.

But de Lima didn’t let this incident affect his attitude. He may have lost his running rhythm but not his happy spirit. As he approached the finish line in third, he graciously smiled at the crowd and everyone felt his joy. “It’s bronze, but it means gold,” de Lima said. At this summer’s Olympics, de Lima had the privilege of lighting the Olympic cauldron in his homeland.

Regardless of where athletes come from, they are united by the love for their sport. This was evident during the first round of the women’s 5,000 meters where American runner Abbey D’Agostino helped New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin get up after they collided and went down during the race.

Rio Olympics 5,000m collision

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Runners spend hours on the road and track practicing to get their times down for the 3.1 mile run. But instead of only worrying about herself and her race, D’Agostino told Hamblin that they needed to finish the race. Both runners helped each other cross the finish line and moved onto the finals.

This Olympic moment, along with many others at this year’s games, shows true sportsmanship. The de Coubertin medal isn’t given out at every Olympic game but if they were this year, there are many athletes that need recognition like D’Agostino.

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