The Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) has pledged a cool K1 million (about $6 000) to any athlete that will manage to defy the odds and win a medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
That is not all. The Olympic body has also promised K500 000 ($3 000) to every athlete that will qualify to compete at the global event tobe staged from July 27 to August 14 this year.
Coaches of the successful athletes will get half the amounts.
At a press briefing held in Blantyre last Friday, MOC treasurer Jappie Mhango sounded as though the committee was making an offer the athletes would refuse at their own peril.
Mhango said the idea is aimed at motivating the athletes.
“We need to break the medal jinx at major games and stop participating on solidarity. We are challenging our athletes to do well in London hence the monetary pledges.
“From the reports we are getting the athletes are working hard and most of them are close to achieving qualification levels. So, we hope the pledges will make them work harder,” said Mhango.
He added that personalities in other fields in the country are handsomely rewarded and it is high time athletes also started enjoying such recognition.
“Musicians, models among others get rewarded for their talent whereas sports stars continue to get peanuts. We want to change that setup so that our sports personalities should be appreciated and respected.
“The pledges will extend to other major competitions as well such as the Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games and World Championships,” he said.
One of the athletes earmarked for the London Games, runner Mike Tebulo, said the pledges will inspire them.
“This is the biggest motivation ever offered to an individual athlete in Malawi. We are working hard to get qualification time and by July we will be in good shape,” he said.
Meanwhile, MOC has replaced table tennis with weightlifting on the list of disciplines going to London.
According to the games Chef de Mission, Flora Mwandira, table tennis has failed to get qualification after failing to participate in qualification competitions.