During the gold-medal finals of the World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Iowa on May 30, USA Wrestling made a major announcement that has the Olympic sports community buzzing.
A new program, the Living the Dream Medal Fund, has been established which will substantially increase the financial rewards for U.S. wrestlers who win Olympic and World medals during the next four-year Olympic cycle.
Any U.S. wrestler who wins a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England will receive a quarter-million dollars.
Silver medalists in London will earn $50,000 and bronze medalists in London will receive $25,000
The payout for a World Championships medal in 2009, 2010 and 2011 will be $50,000 for a gold, $25,000 for a silver and $15,000 for a bronze.
The Fund will be maintained as a restricted and segregated fund by USA Wrestling.* It will be overseen by a board that includes representatives of USA Wrestling as well as the group of stewards who have helped establish the Fund and will assist in financially underwriting it.
In addition to the support of the stewards, the funding will also come from a public fundraising program as well as from existing support from USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Contributions to this Fund will only go directly to pay the awards to each athlete that achieves a spot on a World or Olympic podium.
Included among the stewards are all three Team Leaders for the U.S. wrestling programs: Mike Novogratz (freestyle), Dave Barry (Greco-Roman) and the family of Kim Martori-Wickey (women). Other initial stewards in the program include Rich Tavoso, Stan Dziedzic and Joe Alpert.
"This fund has the soul purpose of increasing the stipends our athletes get for winning a medal, for making it to the podium at the World Championships or Olympic Games," said Mike Novogratz during the announcement in Council Bluffs. "We thought about this as a way of showing our appreciation, and the wrestling community's appreciation, for the hard work, sacrifice and dedication that these young men and women go through."
USA Wrestling has set up a website for the Living the Dream Medal Fund, where wrestling supporters can make donations to the project. People have been asked to give donations from $5 to $5,000 to the fund.