Twin sisters Chloe and Claire Gruenke might have come in last place in their recent track race, but they deserve a medal anyway for the inspiring way they made it across the finish line.
The 13-year-old girls, both eighth-graders from the St. Louis suburb of Trenton, Illinois, were competing in the 800-meter race at the Southern Illinois State track meet on May 10, when Chloe took a tumble, local news affiliate KTVI reports. “I felt something pull and pop in my thigh and then around the first curve on the second lap it just hurt too bad and I couldn’t go anymore so I just fell to the ground,” she explained in an interview with the station. But she didn’t stay there long. Instead, Claire pulled her sister on to her back and carried the injured twin for the remaining 370 meters all the way to the finish line.
Twins have a special bond, of course, but Claire simply says her motivation for the move was “love and sportsmanship.” Piggybacking a human of equal size and weight isn’t easy, but she credits the roaring crowd for the surge of energy she got.
Of those supporters cheering in the crowd was the girls' father, Doug Gruenke. He tells Yahoo Shine that he knew that Claire wouldn’t leave her sister, and her actions didn’t surprise him, but he didn’t know if she would be able to carry Chloe the whole lap around the track to the finish line.
Coree Waltering, one of the twins’ coaches at Wesclin Junior High School, calls the good deed a “happy coach moment.” Another coach, Ted Crail, is thankful he happened to be wearing sunglasses because there were definitely tears in his eyes.
And making Claire’s feat even more impressive, she was already exhausted from running a 5:23 mile that earned her the title of Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association Mile State Champion in her age group.
Once they finished, Chloe got checked out by a trainer (her father says that she’s doing much better now, her muscle is strained and she’s taking it easy), and Claire found a Gatorade and gave it to Chloe.
“They always look out for one another,” Gruenke says. “So this was just a great example.”