NCAA might reconsider Olympic bonuses after swimmer received $750,000

Joseph Schooling
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NCAA President Mark Emmert says the association might reconsider allowing college athletes who compete in the Olympics to accept payments for performance.

The NCAA rules allow athletes to accept money for training from the U.S. Olympic Committee or similar organizations in other countries along with national sports governing bodies.

Athletes can also keep bonuses given for winning medals. A gold medal was worth $25,000 for U.S. athletes in Rio. A silver paid $15,000 and a bronze $10,000. The NCAA has been OK with the USOC’s bonus program since 2001.

“The NCAA, at that time, the members passed a rule that said, ‘You know what? That’s fine. A kid wins a gold medal for his or her country, they can take $25,000,'” Emmert said Thursday. “‘They get to do it once in their academic career. It’s an extraordinary thing. We’ve got, like, five of those or 10 of those in any one year. Good for them.’”

In 2015, it allowed for athletes to accept similar bonuses from other countries. For some countries, the payments are much greater than America’s.

Swimmer Joseph Schooling, who attends the University of Texas and competes for Singapore, received more than $750,000 for winning gold over Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly.

“To be perfectly honest, it’s causing everybody to go, ‘Oh, well, that’s not really what we were thinking about,'” Emmert said. “So, I don’t know where the members will go on that. I mean, that’s a little different than 15 grand for the silver medal for swimming for the U.S. of A. So, I think that’s going to stimulate a very interesting conversation.”

Emmert said during an interview with Aspen Institute that amount was far more than what NCAA membership had in mind.

“The question is whether that person is still an amateur,” Emmert said. “Because if they competed in South Africa and then [were] paid $750,000 to play ball in South Africa, they would be declared a professional athlete and not eligible for NCAA play. That’s the fundamental problem.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia
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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”