Philippine leader raises cash incentive for first-ever Olympic gold

Society Materials 1 August 2008 16:10 (UTC +04:00)

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Friday offered additional cash rewards to any Filipino athlete who brings home the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal, bringing the total prize to 15 million pesos (340,000 US dollars).

The Philippines has not won an Olympic gold since it first participated in the games in Paris in 1924, reported dpa.

Arroyo announced the additional 4.5-million-peso reward during send-off ceremonies on Friday for the Philippines' 15-member delegation to the Beijing Olympics.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the additional cash prize is on top of a 5-million-peso cash incentive provided for by legislation and 5.5 million pesos pledged by various private companies, such as tycoon Lucio Tan and Microsoft Philippines Inc.

Dureza said Arroyo told the athletes that she wanted them "to show the best of the Filipino" during the Beijing Olympics.

Arroyo will attend the opening of the Olympics on August 8. She is scheduled to be in China on August 7-9.

The Philippines has gone home empty-handed in the last two Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004. The last time the country won a medal was in 1996 in Atlanta, when Mansueto Velasco took the silver in boxing.