High-profile athletes in the world of sports take different attitudes to their chosen disciplines. Some are like the iconic Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, was once quoted to have said, "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that".

And then, there are athletes like Polish discus thrower Piotr Malachowski, who won silver at the just concluded Rio Olympics but thought nothing about auctioning it off, in a noble cause.

Malachowski wanted to raise funds for a three-year-old boy named Olek Szymanski who had eye cancer. In a compelling Facebook post, he wrote, "In Rio, I fought for the gold. Today I appeal to everyone - let's fight together about something that is even more precious."

Later, the discus-thrower wrote on Facebook that he had closed the auction prematurely as Poland's richest couple Dominika and Sebastian Kulczyk had "declared their willingness to buy my silver medal for an amount which enables us to meet the goal set," according to ESPN.

Malachowski's target was to raise $84,000 for young Szymanski's retinoblastoma treatment in New York. The surgery cost $126,000 and a portion of that cost was already covered by the Polish foundation, Siepomaga. The Olympian wrote, "My silver medal today is worth a lot more than a week ago. It is worth the life and health of a small Olek. It is our great shared success."

Yarden Gerbi (Israel)

Hearteningly, Malachowski was not the first athlete to showcase their caring side. Elsewhere, Israeli judoka Yarden Gerbi who won bronze at the Olympics, auctioned her autographed Olympic name patch to raise funds for children affected by cancer. It was not the first time Gerbi had given her prize away after winning a medal. The 27-year-old, after winning the World Championships in 2013, raised $3,800 for her medal, and donated the money to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital.

Yarden Gerbi. Image courtesy: Twitter
Yarden Gerbi. Image courtesy: Twitter

Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine)

Twenty years ago, Ukraine's heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko fought his way to a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics. In 2012, Klitschko raised $1 million for charity by auctioning that gold medal for "the dreams of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children".

The buyer gave the medal back to the champion out of respect.

Wladimir Klitschko. Image courtesy: Reuters
Wladimir Klitschko. Image courtesy: Reuters

Anthony Ervin (United States)

While Michael Phelps was sitting pretty on a mountain of medals, there was another American swimmer quietly making history at Rio. Anthony Ervin became the oldest individual swimmer to win a gold medal in the history of the sport when he finished on top of the podium in the 50 metre and the 4 x 400 metre freestyle events.

Ervin had also won a gold medal in 2000. Having provisionally decided to quit the sport in 2003, at the age of 22, the lanky swimmer had given away his medal to raise funds for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Anthony Ervin. Image courtesy: Reuters
Anthony Ervin. Image courtesy: Reuters

Otylia Jedrzejczak (Poland)

If Malachowski sought inspiration for his selfless act, he would not have had to look far. After finishing first in the 200 metre butterfly event in the Athens Olympics in 2004, Otylia Jedrzejczak, also from Poland, did not go back on her claim before the event, where she promised to donate any medals she won for charity.

Otylia Jedrzejczak. Image courtesy: Reuters
Otylia Jedrzejczak. Image courtesy: Reuters