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How to award a 2008 Olympic champion
By Yu Zhong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-11 01:00

What price the reward for those who achieve gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics?

A survey by the China Mainland Marketing Research (CMMR) gives the answer at between 2.7 - 3.9 million yuan (US$326,000 - 472,000).

The CMMR conducted a random telephone survey across China of 500 households in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shenyang until the 28th Olympiad's closing ceremony.

Those interviewed agreed an average premium of 3.9 million yuan (US$472,000) for a record-breaking gold medallist.

Becoming a champion never comes easily, with athletes subjecting themselves to gruelling, painful training regimes.

"The women weightlifters run their lives to reach gold," remarked a civil servant.

The Chinese gold winners in Athens each won cash awards of between 1 and 3 million yuan (US$120,000 -- 363,000).

Despite some opposition, mainly from students, the self-employed and technicians, over 70 per cent from people surveyed approved the level of payouts.

"It is a bit low," about 17 per cent of the interviewees -- mostly civil servants, company managers and workers -- said.

"The champions deserve a long and lasting good life," declared one interviewee.

In Athens, China's Olympic heroes swept to victory with 32 golds, taking the nation's gold medal tally to a record-high second.

Among them, the gold medal won by Liu Xiang in the 110 metre hurdles -- an event dominated by those from outside Asia -- ranked among the most valuable as far as most Chinese are concerned, showed the survey.

Down the list are the triumphs of the Chinese women's volleyball team and the women's tennis doubles winners.

Nearly 94 per cent of the interviewees said they felt greatly inspired by their athletes achievements.

"Extremely exciting!" most of them exclaimed.

For a few, it was hard to hold back the tears when witnessing the succession of victories.

"Even the female athletes pocketed a number of gold medals. No one dare to call us Chinese 'Sick Men of Asia' now!" an old teacher exclaimed on the line.

The survey suggests a growing interest among the Chinese people for the Olympics.

Up to 80 per cent of the interviewees expressed great interest in the Games, and more than half watched almost all the events involving Chinese athletes.

The biggest audience were men from the Chinese People's Liberation Army who said they were "highly concerned" about the Games.

That group was followed by civil servants and ordinary workers, who comprised around 90 per cent of the total.

Beijingers constituted the majority when it came to those in city street who paid the greatest attention to the Olympics, making up 86 per cent.

Due to the time difference between China and Greece, Chinese sports fans had to watch through the night to catch performances live.

Despite the unsocial hour 52 per cent of those surveyed stayed up to watch their heroes.

Guangzhou citizens topped the list of late night viewers, overtaking Beijingers by 30 per cent.

The survey revealed that most popular among Chinese audiences of the 2004 Olympiad were the volleyball, swimming and track and field events.

It costs more than 5 million yuan (US$604,500) to bring up an Olympic gold medalist.

An overwhelming proportion of those surveyed thought the government should invest more in domestic sports development, so as to secure even greater success in future medal tally rankings, in particular as Beijing will be hosting the next Games.

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