Sedykh offered Olympic incentive

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The Independent Online

Yuri Sedykh, the double Olympic hammer champion, is being offered substantial cash incentives by the Russian authorities to tempt him into competing at the Olympic Games.

The former world 100 metres hurdles champion Lyudmila Enquist, nee Narozhilenko, is also among the athletes offered pounds 34,000 per gold medal, plus pounds 34,000 to the winning coach, while the regional government of St Petersburg will chip in another pounds 68,000. The Russian track federation and its sponsor, Reebok, could bring the total jackpot for a gold medal to pounds 170,000.

"Our facilities are still not good and the standard of living leaves a lot to be desired," Valentin Balakhnichev, president of the Russian athletics federation, said. "But we can offer great wealth to anyone who wins gold for Russia in Atlanta."

Twenty years after winning gold in Montreal, Sedykh, now 40 and living in Paris, might be returning for his fourth Games. He also won gold in Moscow in 1980 and silver in 1988.

Enquist, 31, was reinstated last month by the International Amateur Athletic Federation when a four-year drug ban, imposed in 1993, was quashed by Russian courts. She is now living in Sweden.