Auckland - Olympic silver medallist Hestrie Els (nee Cloete) says she is thrilled that long-jumper Khotso Mokoeno - who won South Africa's only medal at the Beijing Olympics - was properly compensated for his achievement and not merely thanked with a "plate of snacks" at a news conference.
"Khotso's silver medal is worth its weight in gold to South Africa," said the winner of two silver medals at two previous Olympic Games, who did not receive a cent for the silver medal which she won at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Hestrie was awarded R500 000 for the silver medal she received at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Mokoeno received his cheque for R500 000, sponsored by Absa, on Tuesday.
"Before the Games in Athens I competed in Europe and on my arrival at the Olympic athletes' village, I heard from the other athletes that the reward would be the same as for the previous Olympics (in Sydney)," Hestrie said on Tuesday from New Zealand, where she now lives.
"I didn't receive a cent."
In Sydney, the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (Nocsa), whose name has since been changed to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), undertook to pay athletes R1m for a gold medal, R500 000 for a silver medal and R250 000 for a bronze medal.
The cherry on top
In 2000, the South African team won seven medals.
At the very first news conference in Athens, the head manager of the South African Olympic team, Kajee Hajera, said that at the time Nocsa was keeping its fingers crossed that it would obtain money from sponsors to award financial prizes to athletes who won medals.
After this, no further announcements were made on the subject.
Hestrie, who was crowned world champion on two occasions, and who also won gold medals at two Commonwealth Games, retired after the Athens Olympics.
"I still think it's extremely unfair that the medal winners were compensated in 2000 but not in 2004 and again in 2008.
"It looks as if the 2004 medal winners were at the 'wrong' Olympic Games.
"I suppose we hit the 'Games without prize money'.
"To crown it all we won more medals than this year's team. It makes you think, doesn't it?" Hestrie said.
Sascoc president Moss Mashishi could not be reached for comment.