Nine-year-old girl hailed a hero after trading in medal for good sportsmanship

Laerskool Warmbad pupil Kaila Germishuizen did the unthinkable when, during a 2km cross-country race in Groblersdal, Mpumalanga, she helped a barefoot runner from another school across a stretch of thorny ground.

Her good deed was witnessed by Thinus van der Heever, a parent and cross-country running coach at Kaila’s school.

When Thinus became concerned because Kaila (9) wasn’t approaching the finish line he ran to another position in an attempt to spot her. What he saw next brought him to tears.

“She picked the little girl from the ground and walked with her in her arms,” he said. “Luckily the girl was small, so she was able to carry her over the thorns and then put her down where the ground was clear.”

The fellow runner was identified only as Sephokwane from Groblersdal Academy.

Thinus said a few sections of the track was covered in thorns and that while Kaila was carrying Sephokwane a marshal told her she wasn’t allowed to do so. Kaila was shattered.

“When I approached the two girls, I noticed Kaila was crying because she was upset that she wasn’t allowed to help Sephokwane,” said Thinus, a co-founder of Edu-Discipline, a company that specialises in a holistic approach to the implementation and management of disciplinary systems within the school community.

“I told her she was allowed to help and asked her if she wanted to,” he added. “She said ‘yes’ and I told her to go back and help her sister.”

The two girls finished behind the rest, but Kaila won a race of a different kind.

“We’re going to present her with a medal in front of the whole school on Monday,” Thinus said. “I was very proud of her. It was tear-jerking to see a nine-year-girl show me what it is to have unconditional love for the people around you.

“From this, people must learn that they must be willing to lend a helping hand regardless of where they are.”