Although having failed to qualify for the final of the swimming competition at the Beijing Olympics, cancer-stricken U.S. swimmer Eric Shanteau won an unexpected "gold medal" from the Chinese.
He received the medal from Shanghai-based Cancer Rehabilitation Club for his fight against the disease, in the presence of 200 cancer patients from Shanghai.
"In the people's mind, you've already won a gold medal of life significance. You've demonstrated the great Olympic spirit with your actions," Yuan Zhengping, head of the club, told Shanteau while presenting the gift to him on Saturday evening.
Shanteau, 24, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June, just weeks before last month's U.S. trials. Nevertheless, he beat Brendan Hansen to earn a trip to China and decided to put off surgery until after the Games.
He came tenth in Wednesday's heats and failed to qualify for the final of the 200-meter breaststroke contest.
Excited Shanteau said the medal meant more than any other medals he had won.
The cancer club members started a campaign five year ago, urging each other to save 2 yuan a day as the expense to go to Beijing to watch the Olympics in 2008.