Ath­letes cash in at World Champs

CityPress - - Sport - CHARLES BALOYI in London sports@city­press.co.za

It is an un­par­al­leled hon­our to rep­re­sent one’s country at the world’s major championships and in­cludes the thou­sands of ath­letes who are fly­ing their na­tional flags at the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Athletics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) World Championships at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Olympic Park in London, which comes to a close tonight.

Most of the ath­letes don’t get paid by their lo­cal athletics fed­er­a­tions for com­pet­ing at cham­pi­onship events, but it’s a dif­fer­ent case for those who help them­selves to a top-eight fin­ish and walk away with big money in London.

Coaches of the three podium-fin­ish­ers also get medals as recog­ni­tion for help­ing their ath­letes be­come the stars they are.

South Africa’s poster boy, Wayde van Niek­erk, pock­eted more than R1 mil­lion in prize money for win­ning the gold medal in the men’s 400m and the sil­ver medal in the 200m.

The world record-holder re­ceived more than R800 000 for his gold medal per­for­mance and added more than R400 000 for his sil­ver medal achieve­ment.

There is no prize money for win­ning an Olympic gold medal, but ath­letes get re­warded for their per­for­mances at the IAAF World Championships.

South Africa’s 100m record-holder, Akani Sim­bine, might not have done well at the championships, but he pock­eted more than R100 000 for his fifth-place fin­ish in the men’s 100m fi­nal on day two of the 10-day com­pe­ti­tion.

Luvo Manyonga, who clinched a gold medal with a leap of 8.34m in the men’s long jump fi­nal, said athletics was a ca­reer and that most of the ath­letes were bread­win­ners in their fam­i­lies.

Manyonga bagged more than R800 000 for his show­ing in the long jump and said he would in­vest the money wisely.

Van Niek­erk said that pay­ing ath­letes pro­vided them with mo­ti­va­tion and that it also made the championships more com­pet­i­tive.

Ruswahl Sa­maai and Caster Semenya, the two bronze medal­lists in the men’s long jump and the women’s 15 000m events, re­spec­tively, earned them­selves a re­ward of R269 000 for their podium fin­ishes.

All five medal­lists shared in the IAAF’s pot of gold for their hard work at the championships.

Van Niek­erk said: “They are a good in­cen­tive and it’s good to run in a com­pe­ti­tion that pays – and for which it’s not just about medals.”

Manyonga said he was in­volved in the sport full time and that it was for the best that ath­letes were re­warded fi­nan­cially.

“Athletics is a job for me and, when you do a job, you ex­pect to be paid well. It’s im­por­tant to be paid – this com­pe­ti­tion pays a lot and that is what makes us ath­letes happy.”

PHOTO: MICHAEL SHEEHAN / GALLO IM­AGES PHOTO: EPA / DIEGO AZUBEL

TANGO Isaac Shamu­jompa of Zam­bia, right, con­trols the ball dur­ing the qual­i­fier game against South Africa at Buf­falo City Sta­dium in East London yes­ter­day BIG BUCKS Ruswahl Sa­maai bagged a size­able cheque af­ter win­ning bronze in the men’s long jump fi­nal at the IAAF com­pe­ti­tion

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