It is the pinnacle of any Paralympic athlete’s career.
Winning a gold, silver or bronze medal is the reward for years of sacrifice and gruelling training sessions hidden from the public gaze.
And now for the first time Team USA athletes at this year’s Paralympic Games will earn an equal payout for winning medals in Tokyo.
For Paralympians are now being paid the same amount of money for winning medals as Olympic athletes, after the passing of a new rule in September 2018.
It is the first time that the equal payments will be in place for the games, although the rule was applied retroactively to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” United States Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said at the time.
“Our financial investment in US Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in our funding model that we felt needed to change.”
As part of the effort the USOC also formally changed its name in 2019 to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Paralympians were paid $7,500 for gold, $5,250 for silver, and $3,750 for bronze before the change, which saw a boost of as much as 400 per cent.
Now they will earn the same as Team USA Olympic stars, which is $37,500 for a gold medal, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.
After the decision was announced in 2018, Oksana Masters took to social media to call the move “absolutely LIFE changing” and admitted crying at the news.
The International Olympic Committee does not pay any athlete at the Olympics or Paralympics, other than providing the medals.
And the US is not the only country that rewards its athletes.
Hong Kong gives its Olympians $644,000 for a gold, $322,000 for a silver and $161,000 for a bronze, but its 24 Paralympians will get paid six times less than that, according to The South China Morning Post.
Paralympians will receive $102,660 for a gold, $51,330 for silver, $25,665 for bronze, $12,832 for fourth place, and $6,416 for fifth to eighth place, and the payouts are doubled for team events.
Malaysia, in addition to providing its Olympians and Paralympians $241,000 for gold, $72,200 for silver and $24,100 for a bronze, also pays a monthly salary to its medalists for life.
This is around $1,182 for a gold, $709 for a silver and $473 for a bronze.
Team GB does not provide prizes for medal winners, but they receive an annual training stipend.
The UK Government has already announced it will provide £232m to help competitors from Great Britain and Northern Ireland prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The investment will be used to support the athletes as well as their coaches and support staff, in addition to funding from the National Lottery.
The £77.4m a year given to UK Sport is an increase from the £54m a year it received for Tokyo 2020, a 44 per cent increase.
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