Sally Pearson calls for prize money at Olympics

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Olympic 100m gold medal winner Sally Pearson says IOC should think about paying athletes

Pearson won gold at the London 2012 Olympics

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CNN  — 

Entertainers are paid for entertaining and it’s time athletes received financial recompense for taking part in the Olympics, says 100m hurdler Sally Pearson.

In 2014,while the winner of Wimbledon received $2,600,000 and the Augusta Masters champion picked up $1,620,000, when Pearson won gold in the Olympics three years ago she received zero prize money.

“People come for the entertainment from the athletes – we are entertaining them, we are entertainers” the Australian, who set an Olympic record of 12.48 seconds in her 2012 winning run in 2012, told CNN anchor Alex Thomas.

“Entertainers get paid every single time they step up onto a stage, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in a sporting sense.”

02:47 - Source: CNN
Olympian says it's time to pay winners prize money

Billions might have tuned in to watch London’s 2012 Olympic Games which saw over 10,000 athletes compete across 302 events in a battle for golden glory, but the International Olympic Committee’s current policy is to (IOC) hand out gold, silver and bronze medals as well as a bouquet of flowers to athletes, but no financial remuneration.

“I can see why they don’t, and I’m sure they want to keep it like that, they want to keep it pure,” added Pearson. “To be honest we’re all still going to turn up whether we get paid or not. But the Games wouldn’t happen without the athletes.”

It also wouldn’t happen without sponsors.

The IOC has just signed a new eight-year sponsorship deal with car manufacturing giant Toyota – reportedly worth just under $1 billion – adding to their list of partners that include McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

Athletes usually fund themselves through sponsorship deals, government support, grants and part-time work. In 2012 only half of American track and field athletes – who were ranked in the top 10 in their nation – earned more than $15,000 a year from their sport.

The fifth fastest 100m hurdler in history, Pearson told the Australia’s Daily Telegraph in 2013 how a year after her Olympic gold medal in London she still wasn’t attracting enough sponsors.

No stranger to hard work – the hurdler sometimes vomits after intense training sessions – she decided to chase down her own deals rather than sit on her hands waiting for private sponsorship.

While she has some support from Qantas, AMP and Adidas, appearance fees and prize money in the Diamond League – an annual series of track and field meetings – also provides revenue earning potential for the 28-year-old.

Now targeting more medal success at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Pearson achieved a resounding win at the Queensland Track Classic on March 7 with a time of 12.74s.

Even so the issue of Olympic prize money still clearly grates.

“I think the times have changed from 1896 to 2016, I think it might be time to at least have a think about it, and discuss it because there’s no such thing as the Olympics without athletics or athletes,” said Pearson.

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