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How much is an Olympic gold medal really worth?

Athletes dedicate a huge part of their lives to the pursuit of an Olympic gold medal, spending countless hours, and dollars, in the process.
But aside from their moment of glory — standing on the podium while the national anthem plays — what do athletes actually get in return?

How much is an Olympic gold medal really worth?

Well, not much, according to Victoria University's Dr Camilla Brockett.
"The value of a gold medal, in tangible monetary terms, is not worth a whole lot," she said.
"It doesn't generate lucrative sponsorships thereafter either.

While a gold medal is certainly going to enhance the profile of any Olympian, there's no guarantee it will lead to sponsorship deals, Dr Brockett said.
She said the mid to late-2000s were considered a sponsorship heyday when athletes including Grant Hackett, Ian Thorpe and Stephanie Rice turned their Olympic success into multi-million-dollar-per-annum sponsorship deals.
Since then, the Russian doping scandal, Lance Armstrong's doping admissions and a spate of badly behaved athletes has impacted the amount of money up for grabs.
"Sponsorship, in a nutshell, is declining," Dr Brockett said.
"Sponsors are more discerning with their sponsorship dollars, particularly for athletes on sporting teams."
She said sponsors wanted to ensure they linked their brands to athletes with credibility and any hint of "questionable behaviour" could decrease an athlete's market value.
"Pre-winning gold medals, athletes are well aware of that. There are plenty of induction programs and training for athletes to carve out a positive public profile," she said.

And these programs have been ramped up since the London Olympics in 2012.
"There are significant lessons that have been learnt from the past," Dr Brockett said.
"There has been a refocus on the value of personal excellence paralleling performance excellence."
That isn't to say that sponsorship dollars won't be available to athletes in Rio, they will. But winning a gold medal is far from the only consideration.
"Athletes who work to maximise that gold medal would have already done the work leading up to that, to position themselves as a person of integrity," Dr Brockett said.
"If they've done all of that homework and they just haven't had that sporting success to give them their moment in the sun, they are going to be in the best position."


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