While 2012 London Olympics fever is gripping the UK, SA is already nursing its bruises after the national football side, Banyana Banyana, suffered a convincing defeat at the hands of Sweden on Wednesday, 25 July. The 4-1 result wasn’t much of a surprise, considering that the 61st ranked SA side was up against one of the best teams in the world, Sweden at No.4.

There’s no doubt that Banyana played their hearts out, with the country’s Olympic governing body, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), dangling a carrot that no athlete wouldn't find enticing. Sascoc is promising lucrative incentives not only to athletes who scoop medals at the Summer Games, but also to their coaches. This is a commendable move by the organisation that has often been criticised for not doing enough for its athletes.

Back in 2008 when SA had its most dismal showing since being reintroduced to world games after the end of apartheid, the Proteas had only managed a lone silver medal – thanks to long jumper Khotso Mokoena. At that tournament, the total purse to have been divided between all medal winners was a meagre R500 000, which the long jumper walked away with.

But Sascoc has upped its cash incentives, leaving the onus to athletes. Should a Proteas Olympic athlete win a gold medal, he or she will take home a whopping R400 000 and their coach will pocket a cool R100 000. Silver and bronze medals are worth R200 000 and R80 000 respectively, while medalists’ coaches will pocket R50 000 and R20 000 respectively.

SA Paralympic athletes stand to win too. They will pocket R100 000 for gold, R75 000 for silver and R40 000 for bronze. Winning coaches will cash in R20 000, R15 000 and R10 000 respectively. Explaining why incentives for the Olympic and Paralympic medalists differed vastly, Sascoc President Gideon Sam said it was necessary to distinguish between the two contests.

“In the Paralympic Games approximately 4 000 athletes are competing for approximately 500 medals, while in the Olympics, there are around 10 500 athletes competing for only 300 medals”. Enough said! Go Proteas! Go!