Medal winners up for grabs

2012-08-03 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s new swimming superstars, Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos, can expect to earn between R2 million and R4 million a year from sponsorships.

Their manager, Ryk Neethling, who won Olympic gold in 2004, said yesterday: “The most important thing is to let them focus on swimming, but their lives have been irrevocably changed.”

Le Clos beat Michael Phelps to win the 200 metres butterfly, while Van der Burgh won the 100 metres breaststroke, setting a new world record.

Eben Venter, a sport agent with Sterling Sport Management in Pretoria, said the two were at a commercial high point and must make the best of it.

“Their value in commercial terms has shot through the roof. An Olympic gold medal will earn them a lot in the long term.”

Neethling would also benefit, getting up to 20% of their sponsorships.

Double gold medallist Penny Heyns said the fact that both swimmers were based in South Africa also counted in their favour.

“They are available to attend events on behalf of sponsors and give speeches. Swimmers are not soccer players; we must make the best of our sponsorship chances.”

The two — and the four rowers who won gold yesterday — will be paid R400 000 by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), which promised this bonus to the country’s gold medal winners before the Games.

Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy said yesterday: “We have invested more than just money in our athletes and now we have something to show for it.”

Sport must be taken more seriously in South Africa, he added.

“I listen carefully to the finance minister’s budget, and sport is never mentioned as an area that should get funding from the government. I hope that will now change.”

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