How Much an Olympic Gold Medal Is Worth to Winners in Kenya

How Much an Olympic Gold Medal Is Worth to Winners in Kenya

Winning a gold medal at the Olympics is a life-changing experience. You can’t put a price on it. But, depending on where you’re from, you might expect a financial windfall.

In Kenya, gold medallists since 2016 are guaranteed Sh1 million, silver medallists Sh750,000 and bronze medallists Sh500,000 in a government-funded reward scheme.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announced these payments to the Kenyan Tokyo 2020 medallists when they visited him at State House, Mombasa on Monday. The president also announced a Sh200,000 token each for the athletes and officials who toured Japan.

These cash incentives however pale in comparison to South Africa's which offer a cash prize of $37,000 (Sh4.04 million) for gold, $19,000 (Sh2.08 million) for silver and $7,000 (Sh765,590) for bronze, the highest pay package in Africa.

Nigeria recently increased their reward scheme three fold to $15,000 (Sh1.6 million) for gold, while silver and bronze medal winners get $10,000 (Sh1.09 million) and $7,500 (Sh820,275) respectively.

Not that it will cost them much. Africa's most populous nation could only manage two medals in Tokyo, silver by Blessing Oborududu in women's freestyle wrestling and bronze by Ese Brume in women's long jump.

Singapore offers the largest cash incentive in the world. Gold medal winners are entitled to a juicy $737,000 (Sh80.6 million), silver medallists $369,000 (Sh40.3 million) and bronze $184,000 (Sh20.1 million).

No Singaporean won a medal at Tokyo though. In fact, you will have to go back four years, well, five years, to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games to find the first and only payment ever made by Singapore for a gold medallist.

In that year, swimmer Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first-ever Olympic gold medal to pocket the hefty reward.

But it was not the biggest handed out. Taiwanese woman weightlifter Hsu Shu-ching, who competed under the banner of Chinese-Taipei in Rio, won gold in the 53kg category.

Taiwan's Ministry of Education and the island's Olympic Committee rewarded her with a whopping $952,000 (Sh104.1 million). However, by my calculations, Filipino weightlifter Hudilyne Diaz is now the best rewarded Olympian in history.

She clinched Philippines first ever gold at the Tokyo Games to send her country into delirious rapture and concomitant rewarding spree.

In addition to receiving a cash reward of $600,000 (Sh65.6 million) from the Philippine Sports Commission for winning gold, one of the country's top businessmen has reportedly matched that incentive.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to reward Diaz with $60,000 (Sh6.56 million) from his own pocket with many Filipino companies reportedly giving her thousands more in cash.

She also received free lifetime flights on AirAsia Philippines, a house, courtesy of President Duterte--plus at least three more homes promised by companies and benefactors.

There is more. An oil company, Phoenix Petroleum, is giving her fuel for life. Did I mention Diaz, the daughter of a boda bada rider, got a promotion and pay rise in the Philippine Armed Forces where she works? What windfall. When I grow up I want to be a Philippine gold medallist!

Spare a thought though for Olympians from Great Britain, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. These countries do not offer any cash rewards for winning an Olympic medal.

It would be remiss of me though not to mention that the IOC does not offer any prize money at the Games either.

And remember what Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Games said: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part."

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