South Africa

'He deserved it more,' says boy who gave medal to injured rival

'He deserved it more,' says boy who gave medal to injured rival

An 11-year-old boy from Mpumalanga offered a touching example of selflessness when he gave away his winner's medal to a boy who he believed “deserved it more”.

The act of generosity by Herco Radley, a grade 6 pupil at Laerskool Trichardt, was sparked by an incident that took place during an athletics event in Secunda on February 10.

As crowds gathered at the West Circuit athletics competition, Radley was competing in the 150m hurdles. Only the first three athletes from each event would go on to qualify for the next round, an event hosted by the Govan Mbeki municipality.

“The gun went off and we started running,” Radley told TimesLIVE on Monday.

“There was a boy from Curro School in Secunda far in front of all of us. At the last hurdle his knee hit the framework and then he fell to the ground. Due to this we passed him and he eventually finished sixth.

“If he didn’t fall, I would have finished fourth — but because he fell, I finished third and qualified for the next round,” said Radley, who has three other younger brothers.

When they finished the race, he said he saw the boy crying in the distance. “I went to him and gave him a hug. My heart was very sore. I felt that he deserved to qualify.”

The winners each received a letter of confirmation for the next round. They also received their winners’ medals on the podium.

After receiving his medal, Radley noticed the boy was receiving medical care from paramedics on the field.

“I walked to him and took my medal off my neck and put it around his neck. I also gave my qualification letter back. They [officials] gave him a letter which made him qualify for the next round.

“My heart was sore and I knew he should have won.

“I watched him compete on Saturday, and even if he isn’t in my school, I was shouting for him.” 

Radley described himself a sports fanatic who does everything from athletics, rugby and cricket to golf and tennis. His favourite subject is English.

“I want to become a professional rugby player one day. My dream is to play for the Springboks,” he said, adding that his role model is New Zealand flyhalf Richie Mo'unga.

His mother Leandra praised her son for showing good sportsmanship. “Words can’t express how I felt on that day. I was extremely proud of him,” she said.

“I still wanted to ask him if he was sure — but the tears in his eyes were my answer.”