Gov’t dangles cash rewards for athletes

Ready: Eppie says it is an honour to be part of the national team
Ready: Eppie says it is an honour to be part of the national team

The government will offer handsome rewards to athletes who will compete at the 23rd Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Africa Senior Championships in Douala, Cameroon, from June 21-26. The Minister of Youth, Sport, Gender and Culture (MYSC), Tumiso Rakgare, said before he became the minister, little was being done for athletes.

“If I recall well, during the 2012 incentives rewards championships like Africa Senior Championships, athletes were making P500 as an appearance fee, now appearance fee is P2, 000. In terms of incentives for winning, in the past it was P12, 000 for gold medal, now it is P50, 000. It is a significant improvement to reward our athletes handsomely. We need to emphasise that the ultimate prize is the Olympic medal,” he said during the team's sending off at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport this week. Silver medallists will receive P30, 000 while bronze medallists pocket P20, 000. Athletes who finish in the top eight will each get P10, 000. For qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics, athletes get a P30, 000 qualification incentive, a monthly stipend of P8, 000 until the end of August as well as funding to support the build-up to the Olympics. Rakgare said after the men’s 4x400m relay team received their houses for the bronze won at the Tokyo Olympics, the government is ready to reward medallists from Paris.

He said motivation is key in sport and it is important to reward athletes handsomely, otherwise if they do not do that, sportspersons will not give their best. “As government, we cannot continue doing this because it is not sustainable. We are trying to say to the private sector, you need to come in and help grow our sport, and help motivate our athletes,” Rakgare said. Botswana sent a team of 41 members, comprising 32 athletes, and nine officials. In the last edition held in Mauritius in 2022, Botswana won four gold medals through Letsile Tebogo in 200m, Tlhalosang Tshireletso (long jump), mixed 4x400m relay team and the men's 4x400m relay. The team also won two silver medals through Bayapo Ndori in the men’s 400m and Tshireletso. Tshepiso Masalela bagged a bronze medal in the 800m. Tebogo is a favourite to clinch gold medals in both the 100m and 200m after his brilliant performance this season. The men’s 4x400m relay team, which is the current world champion, stands a chance to continue with their dominance in Africa.

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