OTTAWA - Canadian athletes will be paid cash for the first time for medal-winning performances at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The incentive program is designed to compensate athletes for the financial burden of training, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Monday. Athletes will earn approximately $20,000 for each gold medal, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.
All Olympic sports are eligible, including team and individual competitions.
The United States has paid prize money to medal-winning Olympians for years. At the 2006 Winter Olympics, athletes were given $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.
A cash program was debated for decades in Canada. The committee recently decide to reconfigure its finances to create a mix of training assistance and cash rewards.
"In most of those other countries that have large rewards at the end of the trip if you win a games, they have very little in the way of development programs leading into the games," committee president Michael Chambers said. "So it's all or nothing. That's not where we wanted to go."
Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden said it will be appreciated by athletes struggling to make ends meet.
"If you want me to go and compete with the world's best, then I've got to be able to train like the world's best," he said. "I don't think I should have to live in poverty in order to accomplish my goals."