USOC Increases Paralympic Medal Payouts to Match Olympics

Paralympians and Olympians will now earn the same dollar prize per medal performance, the United States Olympic Committee announced Friday.

Paralympic payouts under Operation Gold, which provides rewards to athletes who medal at Paralympic and Olympic Games, will increase by as much as 400 percent.

“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” said USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “Our financial investment in U.S. Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in our funding model that we felt needed to change. I’m thrilled that we’ve brought parity and equality to our Operation Gold program and we’re eager to continue to build on Team USA’s success in Pyeongchang.”

Under the new standards, athletes will collect $37,500 gold medals earned at the Paralympic Games, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze. Athletes who medaled at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will retroactively be awarded the new amount – they are now collectively owed over $1.2 million for the 36 medals won in February.

The USOC Athlete Advisory Council had a say in the decision.

“September 21st, 2018. The day Paralympic athletes became equals in the United States,” Paralympic swimmer Tom Miazga wrote on Facebook. “All the commitment, dedication, and sacrifices a Paralympic athlete must demonstrate to be the best are finally being recognized as a feat of superhuman talent, regardless of the physical hurdles they must endure.”

“The future is bright for the US Paralympic Organization.”


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3 years ago

Cool to see stuff like this happening but I’m going to have to remind people that it gives the athletes who overstate their disability to gain an advantage even more incentive to do so.

3 years ago

I don’t know enough about Paralympic athletes and competition to decide what I think here. Does a typical Paralympic medalist put in the kind of training that an Olympic athlete does? Are there sufficient numbers of athletes competing in all the different events and categories to make the accomplishment comparable?

Reply to  Patrick
3 years ago

Imagine being the dude who’s like do disabled people work as hard as everyone els?. Do they really deserve equal pay, why can’t it be like in other jobs where the government let’s you underpay the disabled.

Reply to  Jmanswimfan
3 years ago

To be fair, I never suggested that disabled people generally don’t work as hard as those without disabilities. What I’m wondering is basically this: is Paralympic swimming more like swimming at an Olympic level, or is it more like higher level masters swimming? One is pretty much a full time job while the other is more of a challenging hobby. And if anyone who knows can answer, including anyone from SwimSwam, I really am curious to know.

Reply to  Patrick
3 years ago

I’m not sure what rock you have been living under Patrick but para swimmers put in just as much effort in training if not more than Olympic swimmers. Add onto this living with a disability every day as well. They don’t have the benefits of having multiple endorsements to keep them funded like Olympic swimmers either.

Tha Paralympics is not the fun olympics that they run for athletes who just weren’t good enough to qualify these athletes train their asses off and some are often better than Olympic athletes. I’m gobsmacked that you could even ask such a thing.

Reply to  Sara
3 years ago

I don’t think the argument is about whether they train just as hard or even harder or hardly at all.
For me its about level of competition, I think this money would be better spent growing the sport and creating greater competition. Some paralympic events in Rio only had 7 competitors, hardly competitive. Athletes are doing their bit training and racing but the powers that be should take the sport as serious as the athletes and get out their and grow it.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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