Medals better than cash, say British athletes

LONDON Wed Aug 1, 2012 10:09am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Members of the British athletics squad are not interested in joining an American-led campaign to allow competitors to reap financial rewards for taking part in the Olympics, preferring instead to focus on glory and gold medals.

"I don't think any of us for one second thinks we deserve the right to be paid to be here," Dai Greene, the world champion in the 400m hurdles, told reporters on Wednesday.

"We've all worked our socks off because we want to be the gold medalist and to get the kit and be part of the team and something special.

"I think that's more than enough payment for us all to be honest."

Earlier this week a string of American track and field athletes launched a Twitter campaign to lift 'Rule 40' of the Olympic charter which prevents athletes promoting non-official brands during the Games.

If successful, their campaign will open the door for top athletes to secure lucrative personal sponsorship deals.

A growing number of athletes believe they should be getting a bigger slice of the billions of dollars generated by the Games but members of the British athletics team are not among them.

"You can get so wrapped up in the money side of things and as athletes we just want to go out there and perform the best we can," said Jessica Ennis, a former world and European heptathlon champion. "It's all about the medal, that's our reward. Any extra things are a bonus.

"It's not about that and I think it would take it away from how special it is to make the team and win a medal."

Rule 40 protects the 11 international companies, including Visa, McDonald's and Coca-Cola, which help to bankroll the Olympic movement, paying around $100 million each for four years of global rights to sponsor a Winter and Summer Games.

Those companies and sponsors of National Olympic Committees, including the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), are exempt from rules designed to prevent "ambush marketing" or non-sponsors getting free publicity on the back of the Games.

The International Olympic Committee pumps back 92 percent of its revenues to its stakeholders, which include Games organizers, international federations and National Olympic Committees.

"You want to have the goals of the medals and that's what brings along the success, the money and everything else," said long jumper Greg Rutherford.

"I think taking away one of those key interests in doing well is not going to be a great way of doing it."

(Editing by Nigel Hunt)

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