If representing their country on the world's biggest stage wasn't enough, New Zealand's Olympic athletes also stand to pocket big cash payouts for their efforts.
Our gold medal-winning rowers will pick up $60,000 each before tax, and silver and bronze winners get $55,000 each. The payouts go down to $20,000 for a 16th place, with Nick Willis to receive $25,000 for his 9th place yesterday.
Athletes in team events - deemed to be more than eight members - will get from $20,000 each for eighth place to $35,000 each for winning gold.
The Kiwis' performance pay is among the highest in the world - two to three times more than that offered to Australian and American athletes.
The Performance Enhancement Grants (PEGs) are taxpayer-funded, handed out by High Performance Sport New Zealand - a branch of Sport New Zealand, the agency tasked with generating international sporting success.
High Performance chief executive Alex Baumann said the grants were not strictly a bonus scheme, but were paid to elite athletes to ensure they had sufficient income to stay at the top of their sports between international events.
"The PEGs programme is put in place to help athletes with living costs to ensure that they can train at the highest level. It is not a reward/bonus scheme but is direct athlete assistance to ensure that they can devote their attention to quality training and competition."
The financial benefits of Olympic success do not end on the podium. Sponsorship deals will generate more welcome returns, with sponsors' bonuses, extra advertising campaigns and "in kind" endorsements - such as cars - often thrown in on top.
"For most of those that have been successful in London, they will have had endorsement deals," said sports marketing expert Simon Arkwright, from Sport Research Group. "Most of them would probably have a little bit of a bonus . . . It might be low five-figures.
"[Plus] most of those major codes have probably got a core deal and the more high-profile athletes are probably up for the car deals."
However, post-Games earnings could depend more on personality than performance. "Part of the issue is personality, but it's also the appeal of the athlete," Mr Arkwright said. "Both Sarah Ulmer and the Evers-Swindell twins not only were successful, but they also had very engaging personalities.
"It's [often] not quite sex appeal, but they've got to be memorable and remarkable."
Mr Arkwright picked rowers Eric Murray and Nathan Cohen to make it on to our television screens, but singled out kayaker Lisa Carrington to be "the one breakthrough person" if she managed to pick up a gold. She and partner Erin Taylor race tonight in the 500-metre doubles final.
And beyond the advertising campaigns, speaking engagements can also be lucrative. Sports agent Glenda Hughes, who was ninth at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games in shot put, said some athletes could continue to earn as much as $12,000 for a speaking event, well after sports retirement.
"A gold medal or a silver opens the door. Bronze is probably a bit harder. There's a huge range [in fees] between about $5000 and $12,000. You'd probably get . . . about 15 [speaking events] a year.
"You can do well out of it. I got on to the speaking circuit because I was a shot putter. And I was on it for 20 years."
Silver or bronze: $55,000
TEAMS (per person)
Silver or bronze: $30,000 4
THE GOLD STANDARD
What other countries pay their successful athletes (in NZ dollars):
Italy: $223,700 for gold
Russia: $165,600 for gold, $101,000 for silver, $67,000 for bronze.
France: $80,000 for gold.
Japan: $44,000 for gold.
United States: $30,650 for gold, $18,400 for silver, $12,250 for bronze.
Australia: $24,900 for gold (though swimmers can earn $44,770), silver $16,435, bronze $12,265.
Canada: $24,530 for gold, $18,400 for silver, $12,250 for bronze.
Germany: $24,530 for gold, down to about $2450 for eighth.
Britain: $0 (of the major medal hopefuls, it is the only country not offering cash bonuses).
Incentive To Win: A mining magnate in Malaysia has reportedly offered a gold bar valued at $600,000 to any Malaysian gold medallists (there are none at present).
Online stock company GMO Click, a sponsor of the Japanese swimming team, will reportedly pay its medal-winning swimmers bonuses as large as $366,000 on top of those of the Japanese Olympic Committee. Japan won 3 silvers and 8 bronzes.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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