The promise of Olympic glory awaits

LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK

Freddy Mwiya, the chief administrator at the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), says Namibian athletes will get what is due to them if they win medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Olympians typically receive monetary, and sometimes non-monetary, rewards from their countries for winning a place on the podium.

However, monetary rewards differ from country to country. For example, a gold winner for Team USA would clinch about $37 500 (N$38 048), a silver finisher will earn $15 000 (N$22 600) and a bronze winner $10 000 (N$148 400).

The prizes for successful Namibian athletes have not been determined yet. Mwiya says they are still working on it.

The International Olympic Committee, which is in charge of the Games, does not hand out prize money to athletes for finishing in the top three positions, but provides them with medals and sends an “Olympic diploma”, or a certificate.

More tangible rewards are up to the ministry of sport in coordination with the national Olympic committee.

Beyond that, Olympians rely on other revenue streams, such as endorsement deals, which are rare in Namibia.

The last five standing

Five Namibian athletes are yet to compete at the Games: marathon runners Helalia Johannes and Thomas Rainold, sprint sensations Beatrice Masilingi and Christine Mboma, and open-water swimmer Phillip Seidler.

Maike Diekmann is still in the competition, not for medal contention but rather to contest for better ranking. She was scheduled to compete today in the C final for a 13 and 18 ranking position, after taking the third spot in the semi-final.

Road cyclists Tristan de Lange and Vera Looser, along with mountain-bikers Alex Miller and Michelle Vorster, have exited the competition already. Miller was the only one to finish his race, in a respectable 31st place out of 38.

For those who are left, winning will mean that they get a chance to walk away with money. However, whether the athletes will get their bonuses remains to be seen. Over the years, the NSC has struggled to settle the outstanding performance bonuses owed to athletes who excelled at events such as the Africa Games, World Athletics Championships and World Para-athletics Championships.

Reward delivery failure

Performance bonuses or incentives are part of the National Sports Reward Policy, which was approved by Cabinet in 2018 and subsequently came into effect to motivate local athletes to deliver stellar performances and medals when competing in continental and international competitions.

But since being approved about three years ago, the policy has borne little to no fruits for its intended beneficiaries – the athletes.

One of the five athletes, who declined to be named, said the performance bonus hasn’t been paid yet. “The competition I took part in came and went. Till now, I haven’t been paid. I’m at the Olympics now; my focus is to do well and to hopefully get what I deserve,” said the athlete.