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Prize money for Olympic gold-winning athletes is a good start: Neeraj

Source: PTI
April 11, 2024 13:43 IST
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IMAGE: Neeraj Chopra hailed World Athletics’ decision to reward the Olympic medal winners. Photograph: Marko Djurica/Reuters

Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Thursday lauded World Athletics' decision to award USD 50,000 to all its gold-medallists in the Paris Olympic Games and said he would like to see such incentive being given in other global competitions as well.

In a first for an Olympic sport, gold-medallists in 48 athletics events of this year's Paris Games will be awarded the hefty sum by WA, which has promised to widen the spectrum and include all three medal winners at the 2028 Los Angeles edition.


"Money-wise in athletics, there isn't the kind of money that is in tennis or football among other sports," said Neeraj during an online interaction facilitated by his sponsors JSW Sports.

"World Athletics' decision to announce prize money for gold-winning athletes at the Paris Olympics is a good start. It's a good addition.

"WA is getting very active. In due course, I suppose, they will also give monetary incentives in competitions like the Diamond League, which will be good," said Chopra, who is also a World Championships gold-medallist.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said the introduction of prize money for Olympic medallists was long overdue as track and field competitors are the primary contributors to the huge revenue that the quadrennial Summer Games generate.

Coe, himself a double Olympic gold-medallist, admitted he has not discussed the decision with the International Olympic Committee -- under whose aegis the Olympic Games are held. It could be a cause of tension between the two bodies.

"I don't know, I have not discussed this with them (IOC)," Coe told reporters in a virtual interaction attended by PTI on Wednesday.

Modern Olympics originated as an amateur event and the IOC does not award prize money even though a lot of medallists receive huge payments from their countries' governments, national sports bodies and sponsors.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) awarded Rs 75 lakh each to gold medal winners of the Tokyo Olympics, and Rs 40 lakh and Rs 25 lakh respectively to silver and bronze winners. Each participant was also given Rs 1 lakh.

Coe, who won his 1,500 metres gold medals at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, has, however, rejected the idea that WA's new plan would undermine the amateur ethos of the Games.

"...I have always said that I wanted the athletes to benefit from the proceeds of growth," he asserted.

Chopra agreed with the vision and spoke about how essential financial security is for sportspersons.

" the end of the day, the money we earn now is enough to sustain the athletes. It is helping us lead a comfortable life, give our families a comfortable living," he explained.

Got tips on how to prolong career from Federer

The 26-year-old star, who will begin his competitive season in the Doha Diamond League on May 10, is currently in Turkey for training but was also in Switzerland earlier this year and met tennis legend Roger Federer during an event by Swiss Tourism.

The Indian said coming face to face the 20-time Grand Slam winner was quite an overwhelming experience and the legend shared insights on how to prolong one's career.

"Being an athlete, it was great to meet a legend. As a person, he gave positive vibes. I asked him how he remained at the top of his game for such a long time. I asked him 'how did you do that?' Though our sports are different, I still got to know how he mentally prepared himself.

"He said, 'one needs to balance his schedule, what all tournaments one has to play, pick and choose sensibly to avoid injuries and fatigue'. I also try to do the same things," added Chopra.

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