Olympic Champion Schoenmaker May Not Receive RSA Medal Payout

South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker set the Olympic pool on fire when she not only topped the women’s 200m breast podium but she did it in a World Record-setting performance.

The 24-year-old stopped the clock in a massive 2:18.95, with her emotional in-pool celebration making many a media outlet’s top highlights reel for the entire Games. She also nabbed 100m breaststroke silver making her a two-time medal winner.

When all was said and done in Tokyo, Schoenmaker represented just one of two medalists in total at these Games hailing from South Africa, with the other being that of Bianca Buitendag in surfing.

However, their Olympic dreams of having won an Olympic medal were met with a somber reality check upon returning home, as the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) confirms they are likely unable to pay out Olympic medal bonuses.

SASCOC President Barry Hendricks told South Africa’s EWN that the inability to pay is due to budget constraints.

“We still have the Paralympic Games coming up and the Commonwealth Games next year. We are in a tight financial position and the truth is we cannot afford to pay them R500,000. We do not want to create a dangerous precedence with the Paralympics around the corner.

“We do not want to be irresponsible when it comes to incentive issues. We will give them something small and hope the government helps in that regard.

“If we give R500,000 to the Olympians we have to use the same measure for the Paralympians. Imagine if they get 30 medals, we would be in serious trouble because we do not have money reserved for that. We are looking into the possibility of rewarding our two Olympic medalists, and it is not true that we will not reward them. The amount will be much smaller than in 2016.” (Sowetan Live)

At the 2016 Olympic Games, gold medal winners earned $33,000 USD, silver medalists earned $13,000 USD and bronze medalists earned $5,000 USD.

Hendricks continued, “SASCOC cannot place unrealistic expectations on its athletes when we know full well that we can’t compete with the likes of Great Britain. Great Britain receives £350 million over a four-year cycle in preparation for the Olympics. SASCOC receives R28 million over four years.” (Capetown, Etc.)

“We used to receive a lot of money from the government for funding. We are now getting R5m annually, and it affected our Operation Excellence programme. We cannot afford to pay or give our athletes the best medical treatment, send them to Europe or support their Olympic preparations. I did not set a target and told them to go and achieve to the best of their ability, and we are proud of them. They achieved given the Covid-19 pandemic challenges and lack of funding,” explained Hendricks.

We’ve documented how many nations payout Olympic medal bonuses in the form of cash, luxury gifts, and even postponement of required military service. You can see our post on this subject in more detail here.

For South Africa specifically for the Tokyo Games, the nation was due to pay out $37,000 USD for a gold medal, $19,000 USD for silver and $7,000 USD for bronze. As such, Schoenmaker was set to receive $56,000 while silver medalist Buitendag would be paid $19,000.

But both operational and monetary issues have plagued the SASCOC for some time. Whether it be these having to self-fund their own trips to elite international competitions or dismissing international staff due to sexual harassment allegations.

You can refresh yourself on just a sampling of SASCOC-related issues using these links:

While the SASCOC pursues other monetary options for the 2020 Olympic Games medalists, South African business leaders are trying to take matters into their own hands.

Carel Nolte, CMO of Easy Equities and Mike Sharman, founder of Matchkit, started a crowdfunding campaign, encouraging other entities to contribute to the two athletes’ bonuses. To date, the fund has raised about $2,000 USD.

This funding issue comes at a time when newly-elected FINA President Husain al-Musalla told the AP of Africa’s podium prospects in Paris 2024, “I believe there will be a lot of athletes coming from Africa in swimming and they will reach the podium.

“When you give opportunity to everybody they perform. Africans have a lack of resources, especially for aquatic sport.” FINA plans on spending $29 million over four years ‘on a strategy to widen and deepen swimming’s talent pool’ on the continent. (AP)

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Hswimmer
2 months ago

Not surprised, South Africa could care less about their athletes

Jess
Reply to  Hswimmer
2 months ago

That doesn’t make any sense. Its ‘South Africa Couldn’t care less about their athletes’. If they ‘could care less’ that implies they do care.

Hswimmer
Reply to  Jess
2 months ago

Sorry professor Jess

Kettle pot
Reply to  Jess
2 months ago

It’s “it’s”

Khachaturian
Reply to  Kettle pot
2 months ago

and I think the other guy meant “couldn’t” care less. That would make more sense

DDias
Reply to  LBWIM
2 months ago

Damn it…this looks good…give me two boxes, please!

Greg
Reply to  LBWIM
2 months ago

That was our “quick” snack at 7-Eleven before the 25-30 minute ride home after practice 😊

PaulMcC
Reply to  Jess
2 months ago

My understanding is that it’s shortened from “I could care less, but not by much”

Jess
Reply to  PaulMcC
2 months ago

Shortening somthing to another thing which resultantly doesn’t make sense is no excuse. Its just an Americanism which makes 0 sense.

Michele
Reply to  Jess
2 months ago

Here’s another Americanism Jess….get over yourself. If your only contribution is to criticize someone’s grammar, you have issues.

SwimmerNotSwammer
Reply to  Michele
2 months ago

THE GIRLS BE FIGHTINGGGGGG

Swammer
2 months ago

This is BS. If budget is a constraint, don’t announce you’re going to give someone an exact bonus for their achievements only to revoke it. Perhaps a smarter way is to either not advertise and decide an amount after all of the games listed above, or give a total you plan to disperse among all medalists (gold = x, silver = x-y, bronze = x-z).

However, we must remember we are talking about a national organization so logic does not equal sensibility at that level.

Riko
Reply to  Swammer
2 months ago

I wonder if the medalists happened to be male if they would try to stretch their budget a bit further??!

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Riko
2 months ago

Undoubtedly correct. Off the top of my head, Simbine nearly medaled in one of the glamour events of any Olympics, the men’s 100m. He came fourth. Difficult to believe they would have denied a sprinter after that type of achievement. Their Rugby Sevens men’s team was also very formidable, losing a tight quarterfinal to Argentina.

Redhawk
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

Undoubtedly correct? You’re speculating based on events that *almost* happened. Please show something that provides a precedence.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Swammer
2 months ago

Unfortunately it is tales old as time with the RSA federation. It was about 2 decades ago, but I do recall reading about one specific instance where the RSA federation literally left their national teamers stranded at an airport on a different continent without a ticket home, a hotel room or even food money for days.

Just an outrage how badly RSA Olympic athletes are being treated.

Taa
2 months ago

They give out a ton of medals in Paraswimming so yeah they could go broke if they have some decent swimmers. Seems like they screwed this up in bad way but as long as the bureaucrats paychecks get cash its all good.

John
Reply to  Taa
2 months ago

I don’t think the para medals are weighted as high as the olympic medals for this reason but they definitely messed up by not planning for this.

Nance
2 months ago

” … likely unable …”

David S
2 months ago

It’s almost as if South Africa’s Olympic committee don’t want to win any medals.
Because it means they have to pay out.
They’re happier when their athletes come home empty handed

Torchbearer
Reply to  David S
2 months ago

Sounds like that….these medallists are inconveniences they could do without!

Markster
2 months ago

I think it’s okay to reward Olympic medalists more than paralympic medalists

M d e
Reply to  Markster
2 months ago

It’s a different event, no reason they need to be connected at all.

Obviously Paralympic athletes deserve support also and face a number of challenges able bodied athletes do not, but it is a completely different standard of competition, even just considering the difference in the size of the talent pools.

M d e
2 months ago

So how do you feel about becoming Australian?

bob
Reply to  M d e
2 months ago

Canadian please…we,re dying for a breast leg.

Torchbearer
Reply to  bob
2 months ago

Maybe a bidding war! Hodges got the job done for us however!

Rafael
Reply to  M d e
2 months ago

Brazil paid about 80k dollars to Rebeca for gold silver
But no one come close to what Singapore and HKG paid.

Singapore had no medals, but fencing Ka long and haughey cashed each about 650 thousand dollars. Probably the highest paid athletes of these OG

Last edited 2 months ago by Rafael
M d e
Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

Australian gold medalists make the money on sponsorships not as prize money.

Unfortunately this leads to a situation where financially it is probably more rewarding to be good and good looking, than truly great and less so. Especially for female athletes.

But olympic champion swimmers in Australia make plenty. It’s the mid tier international guys that make nothing (same as everywhere).

Last edited 2 months ago by M d e
Troyy
Reply to  M d e
2 months ago

Not much money to be had for swimmers in Australia.

M d e
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Outside of the very top this is absolutely true.

Olympic champion IS the very top.

This is true pretty much everywhere.

Not millions or anything mind you, that requires like multiple gold at multiple olympics, but comfortable living.

Last edited 2 months ago by M d e
commonwombat
Reply to  M d e
2 months ago

Even then there are no guarantees. Its a different world, both with regards to public $$$ and corporate $$$, than it was 15-20 years ago. AUS Olympic sports that did well in Tokyo will at least keep their current funding levels (Federal); underperforming sports will find it tougher. The days of Sydney era largesse are gone ….. along with the public support for doing so. The corporate $$$ is considerably less and for Olympic sports, will tend to be transient at best. They get far better value for money, if and when they wish to spend it, on domestic professional leagues where they get greater visibility and media exposure.

Good luck to any AUS swimmer who actually manages to snag… Read more »

M d e
Reply to  commonwombat
2 months ago

All you’re saying is absolutely true and I don’t disagree in the slightest, but it’s still the people that are very good but not elite world class that suffer the most.

From these games in particular I suspect Titmus will do incredibly well, McKeon will do quite well and McKeown will do ok.

Will be interesting to see how things go with Brisbane 2032 on the horizon now. Especially once the country has recovered somewhat from COVID.

Admin
Reply to  commonwombat
2 months ago

Do you think the awarding of Brisbane 2032 will start to reinvigorate the Sydney era largesse, as you put it?

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

The announcement was a bit of a non event. Collectively doesn’t feel like the country is as excited by the games and being on the world stage. Sydney was a bit like our 21st – we felt very grown up. Brisbane will be more like our 50th, fun, but it will all be in perspective.

M d e
Reply to  Fraser Thorpe
2 months ago

I think the fact it was announced when bigger things are afoot probably didn’t help.

Sydney wasn’t announced during a global pandemic.

Sam B
2 months ago

“To date, the fund has raised about $2,000 USD.”
while he typed that sentence, a 10 year old youtuber raised 750K on gofundme for his second helicopter

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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