Olympic Silver Medalist Auctions Medal to Pay for Heart Surgery for Eight-Month-Old Baby

A Polish athlete is helping a baby in her country receive life-saving heart surgery after raising more than $100,000 by auctioning the silver medal she won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Maria Andrejczyk finished second behind China's Liu Shiying in the women's javelin throw at the Olympics earlier this month and announced last week that she was selling the medal to raise funds for Miloszek Malysa, an eight-month-old boy.

"Miloszek has a serious heart defect, he needs an operation," Andrejczyk wrote in Polish on her Facebook page.

"He already has a head start from Kubus—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."

On Tuesday, Andrejczyk confirmed on Instagram that Polish supermarket chain Żabka had won the auction with a bid of $125,000.

The money raised will pay for the baby boy to receive the surgery at Stanford University Medical Center in California.

"The true value of a medal always remains in the heart," she told Polish television, according to The Times of London.

"A medal is only an object, but it can be of great value to others. This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet. That is why I decided to auction it to help sick children."

The supermarket chain has since returned the medal to the 25-year-old athlete, however.

"We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian," a Żabka spokesperson said.

Andrejczyk suffered a major health scare herself in 2018, when she was diagnosed with bone cancer just one year after recovering from a severe shoulder injury.

Having made a full recovery, the 2015 European junior champion set a new personal best and Polish national record of 71.40 meters this year.

In Tokyo, her best throw in the Olympic final was 64.61 meters— just 5 centimeters ahead of bronze medalist Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia and almost 2 meters behind Liu of China.

Andrejczyk's silver medal came five years after she missed out on a spot on the podium by just 2 centimeters at the Rio Olympics.

The javelin thrower isn't the first Polish athlete to auction off an Olympic medal for charity.

Piotr Malachowski, the silver medalist in the men discus at the 2016 Olympics, sold his medal to pay for surgery to treat a boy's eye cancer.

Maria Andrejczyk
Maria Andrejczyk of Poland stands on the podium on August 7 after winning the silver medal in the women’s javelin throw at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. She said she did not want her medal "collecting dust in a closet." Matthias Hangst