Polish athlete auctions off Olympic silver medal to help pay for infant’s heart surgery

A Polish javelin thrower has auctioned off her 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medal to help pay for heart surgery for an infant.

On Instagram, Maria Andrejczyk said that she had collected over half a million zlotys ($128,380) for the ailing baby in cooperation with a local convenience store brand.

The 25-year-old athlete won a silver medal for her 64.61-metre women’s javelin throw in the Games on August 6, with China’s Liu Shiying taking the gold with a 66.34.

Andrejczyk, who survived bone cancer in the past, came across a fundraiser for eight-month-old Miloszek Malysa, who has a heart defect, and decided to sell her first and only Olympic medal to help raise funds for the baby’s surgery, according to The Washington Post.

Andrejczyk wrote that Malysa “already has a head start” from a fundraiser for “a boy who didn’t make it in time but whose amazing parents decided to pass on the funds they collected and in this way, I also want to help. It’s for him that I am auctioning my Olympic silver medal.”

She explained that the infant needed 1.5 million zloty ($383,000) for the urgent surgery. Because half the money was already raised, she said she wanted to fundraise the remaining amount.

On Monday, the athlete announced on Facebook that Żabka, a Polish supermarket chain, had won the auction with a bid of $125,000, according to CNN.

“It’s with the greatest pleasure that I give to you, Żabka, my medal which for me is a symbol of struggle, faith and the pursuit of dreams despite the many challenges,” she wrote.

Żabka, however, announced that they would be returning the medal to Andrejczyk, saying they had been moved by “the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian”.

The money raised will enable Małysa to get the heart surgery at Stanford University Medical Centre in California.

Andrejczyk had missed out on winning a medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics by a mere two centimetres.

She then dealt with injuries and fought osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, before going on to win her maiden medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

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