London 2012 Olympics: GB athletes insist money is of no concern at Olympics
Three of Britain’s top athletes have stressed that money is the last thing on their minds as they compete for Olympic glory.
The International Olympic Committee have refused to budge over their ban on athletes mentioning their personal sponsors during the Games, despite a Twitter campaign by United States athletes.
IOC communications director Mark Adams said the ban – known as rule 40 – was to protect money coming into the Olympic movement during the Games, with American 400m runner Sanya Richards-Ross the most outspoken critic.
But when asked yesterday if they wanted to be paid for competing at the Olympics, British team captain Dai Greene led the chorus of disapproval.
“As athletes growing up we never took part in the sport for financial gain. I certainly would have stayed with football if that was the case,” said Greene, who once scored a penalty for a Swansea youth side against Real Madrid.
“I don’t think any of us thinks for one second that we deserve the right to be paid to be here. We’ve all worked our socks off because we want to be gold medallists, and to be part of Team GB is something special. That’s more than enough payment.”
Heptathlon star Jessica Ennis added: “People can get so wrapped up in the money side of things. As athletes we just want to perform to the best of our abilities. It is all about a medal, that’s our reward.”
Long jumper Greg Rutherford added: “The risk that you have if you start bringing payments into things like the Olympics is that you’re going to breed a nation of athletes who think about just making it to the team and that’s it.
“You want to have the goals as the medals, that’s what brings all the success, the money and everything else. Taking away one of the key incentives to do well is not conducive to that.”
And UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee added: “I don’t think true Olympians are driven by money. They compete here to represent themselves, and represent the nation, their family, their club, their sport.”
Richards-Ross revealed American athletes had got together to co-ordinate their Twitter campaign against rule 40. The 27-year-old said: “I just believe that the Olympic ideal and the Olympic reality are different. Six billion dollars are being traded over these Games. I do well, but so many athletes struggle.
“People don’t see the years leading up to the Games when most of my peers are struggling to stay in the sport, doing different jobs. Only two per cent of US athletes are able to tweet about their sponsors. Only two per cent have IOC sponsors.”
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