'The country's future lies in deeds like this' - coach says about Samaritan runner

Potchefstroom - The coach of a cross country athlete who was helped up by another runner after collapsing during a race has said that the county's future lies in deeds like this.

Mpho Mitchell, 16, an athlete from Pretoria, collapsed just before the finish line during the SA cross-country club championships which were held in Potchefstroom on Saturday, Netwerk24 reported.

However, Rustenburg athlete Ronen Oosthuizen, 17, who had initially run past him, stopped, turned around, helped Mpho to his feet and supported him for about 150 metres to the finish line.

Dramatic photographs show Oosthuizen helping Mitchell, who obviously is in excruciating pain because of heat exhaustion, to complete the 6km race. 

People have been overwhelmed by Oosthuizen's gesture. Steve Mamasedi, Mitchell's coach, who saw the drama unfold, said Oosthuizen's gesture was inspiring.

"I teach my athletes to do the same, because they don't know when they someday would need help.

"Mpho was fit and ready and went all-out in an attempt to win the under-16 event, but the heat was too much for him."

Mitchell and Oosthuizen both finished the race in a time of 23:55. This gave Mitchell a 68th place finish while Oosthuizen ended in 85th position.  

Oosthuizen took part in the under-17 race, which was held along with that of the under-16s.


(Roger Sedres, ImageSA, Gallo Images)

Mamasedi said Mitchell had already been given the all-clear by a doctor. He is, however, going to take it easy this week before resuming training next week.

Allan Smith, national sales manager at Asics South Africa, who posted the picture of the two athletes on Facebook, said he would try to get hold of them for a "race" which will have a surprise element.

"There has been a tremendous response on Facebook.

He [Oosthuizen] deserves the accolades. It was a touching gesture: A boy running for a place, but helping up another runner from another province, who he doesn't even know, and supporting him to the finishing line."

Smith's Facebook post has gone viral, with almost 15 000 shares and more than 3 300 comments.