There may be noticeable physical differences between Paralympians and Olympians, but without question, there’s no disparity when it comes to drive and competitive spirit. Now, they’ll be compensated accordingly, too.
After The United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) board of directors voted on equal payouts for medal performances in September, all American competitors, whether Paralympian or Olympian, will receive $37,500 for each gold, $22,500 for each silver, and $15,000 for bronze.
Prior to the vote, Paralympic athletes were paid just $7,500 for gold, $5,250 for silver and $3,70 for bronze while Olympic athletes received the current payout amount.
“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a press release.
“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 programme and we’re eager to continue to build on Team USA’s success in PyeongChang.”
In 2018, the U.S. Paralympic Team won 36 medals, the most out of any country that competed in PyeongChang.
Wheelchair track and field athlete and legendary marathoner Tatyana McFadden, who has won 17 Paralympic medals, expressed her joy in an Instagram post, and put the USOC’s decision in perceptive.
“I don’t know what to say but thank you to @teamusa and believing in ALL athletes and bringing #equality between @us_olympic_team and @usparalympics . I know that athletes have fought long and hard for our voices to be heard and thank you for listening. Sacrifices had to be made not only to make the team but to medal and stay on top of our game. Just so you have a sense our racing chairs cost over $3,000 wheels are over $2,000 plus tires which are about $100. Trying to stay on top of the game for years and years has been the most difficult thing but I love the sport too much to ever leave. This is an amazing change for all Paralympians.”
It’s a medal-worthy decision, and one that’s life-changing for so many athletes who now have the opportunity to train full-time.