Isaiah Jewett knows all about heroes. On Sunday at the Olympic Games, he became one despite failing to qualify in the men’s 800m final in Tokyo.
Inspired by Japanese anime action films and the heroes who overcome adversity and carry on in pursuit of their dreams, Jewett's Olympic dreams lay “in tatters” after he and rival Nijel Amos of Botswana tangled feet and crash to the ground on Sunday. But, as heroes do, Jewett rose from the ashes. He and Amos clasped hands, embraced and carried on to the finish line.
“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,” Jewett told the Los Angeles Times.
Here’s what happened:
With less than 200 meters left in the third and final 800m qualifying heat of the day, Jewett was in third place and hoping to make a move to qualify for the semifinals. But as they rounded the curve toward home, Jewett’s left foot and Amos’s right foot appeared to clip each other sending Jewett sprawling with Amos falling behind him.
“I knew, if anything, just me, I always have to finish a race,” Jewett told the L.A. Times. “I got Nigel up as well because I could see that he was devastated, and I was like, ‘C’mon, man.’ He apologized and I was like, ‘Let’s just finish the race, man.’”
And they did. While Jewett’s Olympics are over, Amos was allowed to advance to the semis.
Jewett, a rising U.S. track star, is the 2021 NCAA 800m champion for USC and finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships. Amos, competing in his third Games, was the silver medalist in the 800m in London. Both were considered outside medal contenders in Tokyo.
“I don’t want any bad blood because that’s what heroes do," Jewett said in the Times article. "They show their humanity through who they are and show that they’re good people.”