Crowd funders have stepped up to the plate to raise money to reward South Africa’s medal-winning Olympians.
On Monday, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Barry Hendriks said there would not be any medal bonuses issued to Tatjana Schoenmaker and Bianca Buitendag.
Hendricks said this did not mean the organisation did not want to issue performance bonuses but it was negotiating with partners to assist in their finances.
Schoenmaker and Buitendag were the only athletes from the country to win medals at the Tokyo Games, where Schoenmaker won gold and silver in the 200m and 100m breaststroke. Buitendag won the silver medal in surfing.
Retroviral founder Mike Sharman started crowdfunding with other brands on Twitter yesterday to assist the two athletes.
“We are no strangers in assisting with finances. In 2016 we helped the men’s hockey team to raise funds for them to be able to compete in Rio and they did well,” said Sharman.
Sharman said it was embarrassing for Sascoc to announce it would not be able to pay Schoenmaker and Buitendag financial incentives.
“It was a kick in the teeth, especially on Women’s Day,” he said. Sharman added the funders had raised R190 000 by yesterday morning.
“We want athletes to better commercialise themselves and we are always ready to assist.”
University of Pretoria swimming coach Rocco Meiring said Schoenmaker made tough sacrifices that cost her financially.
“She trained for 28 hours a week. She extended her studies by an additional 18 months which cost her parents money because she couldn’t complete her financial management studies due to the training she had to do.”
Meiring said other costs included her special diet, which was important in her performances.