The rewards continue to pour in for the country’s medalists in the recent 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, with the four Filipino wonder women who won golds pocketing a cool P1 million more.
But the athlete with the richest cash bonus may not be able to touch her reward—at least, not yet.
Yuka Saso, the double gold medalist who ruled the women’s individual golf contest while powering a trio of girls to the team championship, earned a total of P9.3 million for her feat, a sum that she cannot receive because of her amateur status.
Bianca Pagdanganan, who was to get P2.5 million for her share of the golf pot and her bronze medal, and LK Go, who earned a P2 million bonus from the team pot, also cannot receive their incentives, with the National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP) currently studying how to help with the issue.
“The NGAP is looking at this issue carefully and has sent inquiries to clarify the implications of the acceptance of their incentives on their amateur status,” an NGAP source told the Inquirer.
While the incentives are technically not prize money, which means there may be a way for the golfers or their families to receive their cash rewards, the NGAP is studying the issue carefully because of strict US NCAA eligibility rules.
Pagdanganan stars for University of Arizona while Go plays for University of South Carolina. Saso is not yet in college but she told the Inquirer that she could delay plans to turn pro to spend a year or two in the US NCAA. Thus, the NGAP and her camp won’t take any chances when it comes to cash rewards.
“I always wanted to turn pro right after high school,” Saso told the Inquirer in Filipino in an exclusive interview. “But a lot of things happened and a lot of choices are now available so I really have to think about it. I think playing in college will really help me.”
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chair Butch Ramirez said on Wednesday the Office of the President coughed up additional bonuses of P1 million for gold medalists, P500,000 for silver medalists and P200,000 for bronze medalists.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and skateboarder Margielyn Didal will now get P7 million each for their Asiad gold medals. Before Wednesday’s announcement, gold medalists were set to receive P2 million from the PSC, P2 million from the Philippine Olympic Committee, P1 million from the Phoenix Siklab Foundation and P1 million from Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Hiong Tan Wee.
Meanwhile, the PSC has extended help to the family of Olympic table tennis player Ian Lariba who passed away last Sunday.
The incentives will be handed in a ceremony in Malacañang on Sept. 12.
The PSC has also paid for the medical expenses worth P1.5 million as the agency also vowed to help other Olympians who are suffering from illness, including Leopoldo Serantes, who is battling obstructive pulmonary disease.
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