Athletics: More money for gold
KUALA LUMPUR: It’s not just fame but also instant riches for the athlete who delivers the first Olympic gold medal for Malaysia in Beijing in August.
The Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Seri Othman Said, said that the current scheme to reward athletes for excellence at the Olympic level would not only be revised but it would also include coaches for a share of the pie.
And the government will also seek help from the private sector to chip in towards increasing the purse.
The decisions were made during the first Olympic steering committee meeting yesterday and they would be recommended to the Cabinet Committee of Sports, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, for endorsement.
Attending the meeting, chaired by Azalina, were National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Zolkples Embong and National Sports Institute director general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz and chef-de-mission of the contingent to the Beijing Games Datuk Ho Koh Chye.
Under the current NSC reward scheme, an Olympic gold is worth RM160,000 and it is RM80,000 for silver and RM40,000 for bronze. But the amount for the athlete who strikes gold in Beijing could be RM1 million or more, depending on the contributions from the private sector.
While it is time for Malaysia to look into increasing the rewards in tune with what countries like Singapore and Indonesia are dangling, another factor that prompted the steering committee to make the proposals was the suspicion of bookies involvement in badminton.
Singapore will reward a gold medallist at the Beijing Games with $S1 million (RM2.2 million) while an Indonesian winner stands to pocket 1 billion rupiah (almost RM360,00).
“The Olympics is the biggest sporting event and we do not want any claims that bookies could be involved, especially where our athletes are concerned,” said Azalina, who added that the rewards may not just be in cash but also in other forms of remuneration.
“We want to avoid this by raising the incentive so that all they need to do is focus on winning for the country. We will get the private sector to help. We will look at the role played by their coaches and reward them as well.”
Malaysia also have a monthly pension scheme of RM3,000 for an Olympic gold medallist, RM1,500 for silver and RM1,000 for bronze. It takes effect from the date of winning the medal.
The Olympic steering committee also decided to have a dedicated support team for each sport where Malaysians will be competing in Beijing.
“The number of athletes for Beijing will not be big and we want to make sure each athlete gets the best support to cope with any situation that may arise,” said Azalina.
Malaysia returned empty-handed from the last two Olympic campaigns in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004) but Azalina is hoping the drought will end in Beijing.
“If it’s a gold, it will be a bonus. We will be happy if we get medals of any other colour,” she said.
Malaysia have won medals from badminton through Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (silver) and Rashid Sidek (bronze) in Atlanta in 1996 and Razif-Jalani Sidek (bronze) in Barcelona in 1992.