TOKYO— The runner who just tripped Isaiah Jewett from behind was sprawled out on the track next to him.
Hurt or hard feelings? Just the opposite. The American 800-meter runner was a good sport.
Jewett helped rival Nijel Amos of Botswana to his feet, put his arms around him and they 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 said.
It was right in line with all the superhero anime shows he watches.
“Regardless of how mad you are, you have to be a hero at the end of the day,” said Jewett, who was planning to file a protest. “And that was my version of trying to be a hero — standing up and showing good character even if it’s my rival or whoever I’m racing or if anything happened.
“Because that’s what heroes do, they show their humanity through who they are and show they’re good people.”
Jewett was just about to go into his kick on the final turn when the back of his heel hit Amos. He went down. So did Amos.
“As he looked at me, he said, ‘I’m sorry,’” Jewett recounted. “I said, ‘It’s OK, man.’”
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.”
There’s still a possibility that Jewett wins an appeal and advances to the final. But he may be banged up. He’s not sure yet. 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.”
By PAT GRAHAM AP Sports Writer