China rewards Olympic champions 09-05-2004 12:33

China's recently-crowned Olympic champions have become new idols among the nation's younger generation. They are widely respected for earning the nation its highest-ever haul of gold medals at the Olympics.

But they're also increasingly gaining admiration for reaping the financial benefits of rising to the very top of their chosen endeavors.

The Confucius teaching -- "real gentleman never talk about money" has been somewhat replaced by a growing admiration for those who pursue wealth through honesty and hard work. And China's Olympic champions are modern day examples.

After years of tough training, the athletes won the upper hand in many competitions at world-class levels, qualifying them for generous cash rewards from both the central and local governments. The amount of money set aside to financially reward their dedication is estimated to be the highest since 1984, when China first participated in modern Olympic Games.

Sports authorities of the nation have promised to give each Olympic laureate 200,000 Yuan, or about 24,000 US dollars. But the award from their home provinces or regions is even more attractive.

China's southwestern Yunnan Province tops the list, rewarding local hero Zhang Guozheng with the biggest prize. The 31-year-old gold medal winner in the men's 69-kilogram weightlifting event, who slightly injured his back during his last jerk, will receive about 1.5 million Yuan, or about 192,000 US dollars from the provincial government.

Other provinces and regions, as well as municipalities, are also providing generous rewards for their gold medal winning local heroes. These include world champions from Beijing, Shanghai, Fujian, Jiangxi and Sichuang, who will receive cash awards of 500,000 Yuan, or about 60,000 US dollars.

China's Taiwan region also won its first two gold medals in Athens, both in Taekwondo events. The two champions, Chen Shin Hsin and Chu Mu Yen, will be able to enjoy a lifelong pension of more than 2,000 US dollars every month.


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