“These young athletes don’t care about the past. They just get on and work together. It’s a strong message,” photographer says of his inspiring image at the SA Cross Country Championships – By Mike Finch
The photographer that captured the image of Ronen Oosthuizen helping an exhausted Mpho Mitchell to the finish line during the SA Cross Country Championships Potchefstroom on Saturday, says the reaction to the picture shows how eager South Africans are to share good news.
“It’s not the image itself, it’s about where we come from and where we are now,” Roger Sedres from imagesa.com said. “People are just hungry for more togetherness.”
Ooshuizen, from Athletics North West, stopped to help Mitchell, from Gauteng North, who had collapsed on the side of the route just 100m from the finishing line. In temperatures of close to 40 Celsius Oosthuizen helped Mitchell to the finish line before medics took over.
“It was just a moment. There were lots of races going on at the same time so it was difficult to see who was in which race,” Sedres said. “But Mitchell was lying in the grass and Oosthuizen stopped, picked him and helped him. It almost went unseen.”
The Facebook post has gone viral since it was shared by Sedres with many paying tribute to the spirit of Ubuntu shown by the young men.
“Athletes are doing so much that is positive in South Africa,” Sedres, who also captured many of the images of South African athletes at the World Athletics Championships in August, said. “Whether it’s Wayde van Niekerk, Caster or the singing of the national anthem…”
“These young athletes don’t care about the past. They just get on and work together. It’s a strong message.”
Sedres said he had posted the image after the weekend as part of a collection of photos but this image had suddenly hit a nerve. On Runner’s World’s Instagram account the image is the most-liked image ever on the account and by Tuesday had reached over 100 000 people on Facebook.