Participants in 42 events at the two-day National Youth Athletics Championships to be held at the Brahmananda Reddy Stadium in Guntur have an added incentive to break records. The organisers,the Guntur District Athletics Association,will award 10-gram gold coins,along with the medals,to those athletes who set records in the under-18 championships for boys and girls,held over the weekend.
Going by the current bullion rates,each new record holder will be richer by Rs 26,000 approximately. There are also cash awards for the podium finishers,with the winner to be given Rs 5,000,the silver medallist Rs 3,000 and the third-place finisher Rs 2,000. The best athlete of the meet will be given a cash award of Rs 80,000. In a sport where prize money is largely non-existent at the national level,the meet carries a total of Rs 4,20,000 as cash incentive.
Incidentally,this is not the first time that those who have rewritten the record books in track and field at Guntur have experienced a gold rush. Events conducted under the aegis of the Guntur association since 1984 have had the 10-gram gold incentive.
In 1989,during the senior inter-state athletics meet,10 meet records were broken,including one by PT Usha. We gave away 100 grams of gold in all,to the athletes who set new marks. Gold coins have also been awarded to athletes at meets in 1984,2002,2007,2010. Six years ago we also awarded motorbikes to athletes who performed exceptionally well, G Usha Rani,the joint-organising secretary of the national youth championships,said on Saturday. The gold coins,which will have the imprint of the district association,are being sponsored by a local jeweller,Rani added.
The idea to give athletes cash awards and gold came from former hammer-thrower G Seshaiah,who is the current secretary of the Guntur District Athletics Association. Since 1973,the year in which the association was formed,the collector of Guntur has been the chairman of the organising committee of all national or state-level athletics event organised in the district.
I made an appeal for sponsorships and in response we have received up to Rs 10 lakh from industrialists. Another 20 lakh has been contributed by various government departments,including tourism and sports. As the national youth championships serves as a qualification event for the Asian and World championships,we wanted to give cash awards to athletes as an added incentive to give their best, Guntur district collector Suresh Kumar said.