Incredible story of how a son brought home the medal that his father had sacrificed for him 28 years ago

Sometimes we come across very strange events in life which seem to indicate the role of a power that rules over our destiny. Films have often portrayed such dramatic incidents in their plots. But occasionally a real life incident astonishes us much more than what we see on the screen. To commemorate Father’s Day, here is one such incident that was among the rarest of the rare in the history of the Olympic Games.

Back in 1924 one of USA’s top canoeists named Bill Havens was thrilled when he was selected to represent his country in the Olympic Games in Paris. But he was also faced with a big dilemma. His wife was scheduled to give birth to their first child on a date which fell almost on the same day as his race in the Games.

So he had to choose – whether to be in Paris representing his country, or be with his wife in the USA when she delivered. If he went for the Games, he was very likely to win the Gold medal. But the big question was — should he go and not be present at the birth of his first child? He struggled with the question in his mind for several days.

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Different people gave him different types of advice. Some recommended that he should go to the Games. After all, just a very few sportsmen get the honour of representing their country at the Olympics. Others advised him to stay back at home. His first child was on the way. A child is a blessing from God. What can be bigger than that?

So Bill Havens was torn between his desires. After much thought, with a heavy heart, he gave up his place in the US team and dropped out of the Olympic Games. The gold medal that he was expecting to win went to another competitor and thereafter Bill Havens went out of the limelight. He led a quiet life, looked after his family and was soon forgotten by the media. Sometimes he must have thought about what could have happened and the fame and fortune that he willingly sacrificed so as to support his nervous wife, see the birth of his first child and experience the very first minute of the little boy’s life.

The little child was given the name of Frank. He grew up and he too took up canoeing as his sport. He seemed to have inherited the skills and stamina of his father and the day came when he too was selected to represent the USA at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. He had been coached by his own father Bill. It was a great moment just to be able to take part in the Olympics. Twenty eight years had passed since his father had missed the chance to win a gold medal.

Frank had earlier won a silver medal in London in 1948 but he knew that was not enough. He was now determined to win that gold medal which his father had given up for his sake. He took part in the 10,000 metre race which was a grueling event, taking about an hour. The race was held in a bay where the waves were rough and the going was hard.

But Frank Havens was determined to bring home the medal that his father had sacrificed for his sake 28 years ago. After a hard battle, his fighting spirit eventually gave him a victory and he won with an eight second margin over his Czech rival Alfred Jindra. In the process he also set a new world record. The first thing that the overjoyed Frank Havens did was to send a telegram to his father Bill in the USA.
He wrote: ” Dad, I have won the gold medal. I am bringing home the medal that you gave up for me 28 years ago. It really belongs to you.”

And thus it happened that Bill Havens, who had sacrificed the opportunity to win an Olympic Gold medal for his newborn son was presented with the gold medal by that same son 28 years later. Such things rarely happen. There is a saying that truth is stranger than fiction. In this instance, that was certainly the case. The son Frank Hayes became USA’s most successful canoeist, lived a long life and died in July 2018 at the age of 93. Till today, Frank Havens is the only US competitor to have won a gold medal in a singles Canoeing race at the Olympic Games.

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