This question is from the poem ‘Nine Gold Medals’ by David Roth.
The nine athletes joined hands to help the fallen and injured runner go to the ending point.
Their action of joining hands shows the friendly and sportsman spirit in them. Though they were there to compete with each other, they ended up helping the distressed one out of their sense of empathy and cooperation.
The race was reduced to a walk due to the stumbling of a runner in the middle of the race. After that unfortunate incident the other athletes decided to stop and help the fallen one stand on his feet. Then they went to the finishing line walking hand in hand.