Friday, August 17, 2012

Bronze Medalist With Heart of Gold

The summer Olympics are over. The top winning athletes are now seen on TV talk shows and cereal boxes. All their hard work paid off and the payday begins. I’m sure everyone who competed at the Olympics dreamed of winning a medal, but of course, not everyone can. Many know all their hard work will result in them being able to say they competed at the Olympics (which IS pretty cool).

Zofia Noceti-Klepacka of Poland is a very unique athletes. The 26-year-old windsurfer promised her 5-year-old neighbor Zuzia that if she won a medal she would sell it and give all the proceeds to her Zuzia’s family. Zuzia suffers from cystic fibrosis and has already under gone five operations. Last week Noceti-Klepacka won the bronze medal in women’s RS:X windsurfing (finishing just three seconds ahead of a rival from Finland).

(Side note: how many people knew windsurfing was even an Olympic sport? I didn’t. Other Olympic sports I didn’t know about: hand ball and trampoline.)

Nobody can say how much she’ll get for it, but it sure is a very selfless thing to do. Think about, she probably trained for years, sacrificed a lot and forked out a lot of money for this once in a lifetime opportunity. She got that medal and now she’s willing to part with it to help someone else.

Many athletes would never do that but some have. Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko won the gold medal in boxing at the 1996 Olympics (the first year Ukraine completed at an Olympics). Earlier this year he auctioned off his gold medal, earring $1 million to go to a foundation to help fund children’s sports camps and facilities in the Ukraine (side note: the anonymous winner returned the medal to Klitschko after the auction). U.S. swimmer Anthony Ervin won the gold in the 50 meter freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Games. He put his gold medal on eBay and donated the over $17,000 he got to victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. And Polish swimmer Otylia Jedrzejczak donated the $80,000 from selling the gold medal she earned at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 200 meter butterfly to a Polish charity that helps kids with leukemia.

“I don’t need the medal to remember,” Jedrzejczak was quoted. “I know I’m the Olympic champion. That’s in my heart.”

So while some athletes will be raking in the money, others know it’s not all about the money.