PRESIDENT ARROYO BOOSTS OLYMPIC GOLD REWARD TO P15 MILLION
PHOTO AT LEFT - President Arroyo poses with members of the Philippine team to the Beijing Olympics: from left (front row), diver Ryan Rexel Fabriga, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, diver Sheila Mae Perez, long jumper Marestella Torres and (standing) swimmers Ryan Arabejo, Christel Simms and JB Walsh, trackster Henry Dagmil, and taekwondo jins Tshomlee Go and Mary Antonette Rivero. Photo by WILLY PEREZ]
MANILA, AUGUST 2, 2008 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - There are now fifteen million reasons to win the gold.
President Arroyo, in front of the Filipino athletes vying in the Beijing Olympics, yesterday threw in another P4.5 million for any athlete who wins the country’s first gold medal.
The total cash prize that would go to the Pinoy gold medalist is now at P15 million. There’s a corresponding prize for those winning the silver or the bronze.
The 15 athletes were also presented $1,000 in pocket money yesterday. Those who were not around were boxer Harry Tañamor who was in Baguio, and shooter Eric Ang and archer Mark Javier, now in Beijing.
The announcement was met with wild cheers from the Olympic-bound athletes, and the country’s top sports officials that paid the President a courtesy call yesterday at Malacañang.
The Chief Executive entered the Heroes Hall at exactly 1:50 p.m. in a bright yellow business suit. She shook hands with each athlete and later on was surrounded by sports officials.
After being presented the RP Team’s official uniform by chef-de-mision Monico Puentevella, and putting on her red-white-and-blue jacket, the President made the announcement.
Then she wished all the athletes good luck.
“Congratulations and good luck, good luck, good luck,” said the President who also received the official Beijing Olympics accreditation passes for her and her small entourage.
She vowed to cheer them on in Beijing.
“Basta huwag niyo lang ako pakakabahin ah (As long as you won’t make me nervous),” she said, drawing laughter from those around here. She responded by clapping her hands.
The President left the room after 10 minutes, but not after allowing herself to be photographed with the athletes.
“Good luck again, and congratulations,” she said.
At the same time, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said that apart from the P15 million cash incentive, the first Filipino gold medalist will also receive a brand-new Toyota Altis sedan, which will be donated by one of the sponsors from the private sector. – With report from Marvin Sy
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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