Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s High Jump – Medal Ceremony – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 2, 2021. Gold medallists, Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar wearing protective face masks celebrate on the podium REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
This year’s Olympics—albeit postponed by COVID-19—brought the countries together in unity, kindness and gold-medal dreams. Coming together through sport, athletes worldwide showed that the Olympics are about so much more than winning; it’s about making a difference.
Here are some of our favourite stories of kindness at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics!
Silver in javelin, gold in kindness
Polish Olympic athlete Maria Andrejczyk faced her share of battles against adversity to compete at this year’s Tokyo Olympics. Overcoming bone cancer and a shoulder surgery to qualify, Maria won a silver medal in her sport, javelin.
Returning to Poland after the Games, Maria heard about Molszek Malysa, an eight-month-old infant in Poland in need of a life-saving surgery to treat a heart defect.
To help raise money for the procedure, which required a trip for the Polish family to Stanford University in California, Maria decided to auction the silver medal that she won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Zabka, a popular grocery store chain in Poland, put in a $51,000 bid to reach the fundraising goal, allowing Maria to keep her medal.
On Twitter, the official Zabka account tweeted about the donation, “We were very moved by the extremely beautiful and noble gesture of our Olympian, so we decided to support the fundraiser for Miloszek,” the tweet reads. “We decided that silver from Tokyo will stay with Maria!”
Friendship conquers all
Friendship came before competition for Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim during the men’s high jump final in Tokyo, leaving the real-life friends with a gold medal each.
After tying with jumps of 2.37 metres, Olympic officials suggested a jump-off to decide the winner.
“Can we have two golds?” Barshim asked.
When the official decision was made that they could have a gold medal each, the pair embraced and celebrated.
“He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track,” Barshim said. “We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message.”
A golden act of kindness
On his way to the men’s 110-metre hurdles semi-final, Jamaican track-and-field star Hansle Parchment got on the wrong bus and ended up at the aquatic centre ahead of his race.
In a video posted to social media, Hansle shared that he feared his medal chances were over, “I saw this volunteer and I had to beg, because of course, she’s not allowed to do much, and she actually gave me some money to take one of the taxis,” he said.
Hansle made it to the track-and-field stadium in time and qualified in second for the final event—where he finished in a season-best time of 13.04, winning him a gold medal.
Before leaving Tokyo, Hansle tracked down the volunteer that helped him that day to pay her back. In the Instagram video, Hansle pays her back the taxi fare, showed off his gold medal, and gifted her an official tracksuit for the Jamaican team.
As an extra-special thank you, Jamaica’s minister for tourism, Edmund Bartlett, invited the volunteer to visit Jamaica whenever she’d like.