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July 11 (Reuters) - A Malaysian mining magnate has offered the country's Olympic badminton team a gold bar worth 2 million ringgit ($630,000) if they can bring home a first gold medal from the London Games.
The steamy Southeast Asian country has never won gold at a Games dating back to their first in 1956, but has won two bronze and two silver medals, all in badminton.
Andrew Kam, a badminton enthusiast and chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Racquet Club Berhad (KLRC), offered the additional sweetener to the team, who have already been offered 1 million ringgit by the government and a separate private firm to win gold.
"KLRC would like to play a part in helping this dream become a reality - and that is to capture the elusive gold medal which our country has yet to achieve," Kam said in a statement carried by local media.
"Towards this end, on behalf of KLRC Berhad, I would like to throw a challenge to our Malaysian badminton team: If any of you brings home a gold medal from London 2012, there is a 2 million ringgit gold bar waiting for you here. Gold for gold!
"Please see this as an incentive and work hard to achieve this dream."
Men's singles silver medallist Lee Chong Wei, who lost the gold medal match to China's badminton great Lin Dan at the Beijing Games, is likely to be Malaysia's greatest hope of a maiden gold.
Lee, however, is scrambling to be fit in time for the July 28 - Aug. 5 tournament at Wembley Arena after suffering an ankle injury in May.
"There is no question that this is the kind of reward that will help the players rise to the occasion," Lee told local media.
$1 = 3.18 ringgit Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty