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Chinese Embassy ups Olympians stakes

GABORONE - It's official, P50 000 for gold, P30 000 for silver, P20 000 for bronze and P10 000 for reaching the finals at the Olympic games in China next month.

The Chinese Embassy in Botswana is offering these mouth-watering incentives to any local athlete who reaches the above mentioned stages at the Beijing games in August.

To show their seriousness, the embassy gave each athlete P2 000 for having qualified for the games. The Botswana team to the games is made up of two boxers and 10 athletes.

Speaking at a ceremony to announce the incentives, the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana, Mr Ding Xiaowen, said he was prompted by the fact that local athletes have never won any medal at the Olympics.

Mr Ding said he thought of many things to encourage the athletes and finally came up with the incentives to help the team to do their best at the games.

He noted that the team stands to pocket P600 000 if they all win gold medals, joking that he might have to auction his house to pay the athletes.

However, he said the money will not be difficult to raise as local Chinese companies as well as Chinese nationals will help him.

The Chinese ambassador said his dream is to see at least one local athlete win a gold medal. Youth, sport and culture minister Mrs Gladys Kokorwe said she appreciated the help of the Chinese Embassy in financing elite sport in the country.

She said it is not the duty of the government alone to finance elite sport, saying they need the support and contribution of the private sector and other development partners.

The minister appealed to the Chinese government to avail opportunities for local athletes to train in China to enable them to be better prepared and competitive.

On other issues, the Chinese ambassador also pledged to give 300 soccer balls to the Constituency League, which was recently launched by President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

The league needs about 3 000 balls so far it has 100 balls. BOPA

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