USA Wrestling McMann receives firs...

McMann receives first reward payment from Multiple Medal program funded by wrestling donors

By Gary Abbott | Oct. 20, 2005, 12 a.m. (ET)

2005 World bronze medalist Sara McMann (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) has become the first athlete to receive a payment from a new special fund from private donors earmarked for U.S. wrestlers who claim multiple medals for the United States.

McMann won a bronze medal at 63 kg/138.75 pounds in the women's freestyle division at the World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary on September 29.

McMann was a 2004 Olympic silver medalist competing at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. She also won a 2003 World silver medal in New York City.

A group of wrestling leaders, who are also successful in the private sector, have raised funds for that provide financial rewards to wrestlers who win more than one World-level medal for the United States. This is additional funding for these athletes above and beyond what they will receive from USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee for their wrestling achievements.

Those who are eligible for this fund are past Olympic wrestling medalists for the United States. In addition, any U.S. athlete who wins two consecutive World and/or Olympic medals during an Olympic quadrennium (four-year cycle) will also receive a financial payment.

"I can not think of a more worthy performance from our first recipient. After a hard-fought first round loss to last year's Olympic Champion, Sara's efforts in winning a bronze medal were inspiring," said USA Wrestling President Stan Dziedzic, who is spearheading the effort for the multiple medal program.

"One reason for the historic success of the Russian team is their ability to maintain their most accomplished wrestlers. They do so by offering a meaningful financial incentive to their medal winners," said Dziedzic. "The members of the 'Multiple Medal' program are committed to narrowing the incentive gap that now exists between us and Russia. In addition, the make-up of the members encompasses a wide variety of skills. They are willing and, of course, able to offer expertise to our wrestlers as they transition into their careers"

Currently, the payment structure includes:
* $25,000 for an Olympic gold medal by a multiple medalist who meets requirements
* $15,000 for an Olympic silver medal by a multiple medalist who meets requirements
* $10,000 for an Olympic bronze medal by a multiple medalist who meets requirements
* $15,000 for a World gold medal by a multiple medalist who meets requirements
* $10,000 for a World silver medal by a multiple medalist who meets requirements
* $5,000 for a World bronze medal by a multiple medalist who meets requirements

The amount of funding for these achievements could increase over time as more funds are raised from other private donors for the program.

The support level for a medal won at a non-Olympic women's wrestling weight class (51 kg, 59 kg. 67 kg) will be less, with the payment schedule currently being reviewed.

Because she won a World bronze medal in Budapest, McMann will receive $5,000 from this special private fund.

The U.S. won seven medals during the World Championships in Hungary. All seven become eligible for payments during the next three years is they win another medal at the World Championships or the Olympic Games.

In addition to McMann, those eligible during this quadrennium include these 2005 World medalists:
* Joe Williams (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 74 kg/163 lbs. in men's freestyle
* Tolly Thompson (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264.5 pounds in men's freestyle
* Sally Roberts (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 59 kg/130 lbs. in women's freestyle
* Katie Downing (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 67 kg/158.5 lbs. in women's freestyle
* Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. in women's freestyle
* Brandon Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. in men's Greco-Roman.

Also eligible during this quadrennium are these 2004 Olympic medalists:
* Stephen Abas (Fresno, Calif./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs. in men's freestyle
* Jamill Kelly (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. in men's freestyle
* Cael Sanderson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 85 kg/185 lbs. in men's freestyle
* Patricia Miranda (New Haven, Conn./Dave Schultz WC) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. in women's freestyle
* Rulon Gardner (Wellsville, Utah/Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. in men's Greco-Roman

It is a fact that many of the most successful wrestlers in U.S. history have won multiple World and Olympic medals for the United States. The statistics show that once a wrestler is good enough to win a medal on the world level, the odds are that he or she has a great chance to win another one rather quickly.

This project is designed to give our American wrestlers who have won medals an incentive to stay involved in the sport longer, win even more medals for our nation, and have a specific financial reward for being a repeat performer.

In addition, these very successful wrestling leaders will also provide counsel to athletes to assist them in transferring their human capital into successful careers outside of wrestling. This will be a mentoring group, available to the athletes as they make choices about their future. The goal is to provide the financial incentive and human support for these athletes to commit to an additional Olympic four-year cycle.

Currently, U.S. wrestlers receive financial support from USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee based upon performance. This support has allowed more U.S. wrestlers the financial support to continue competing that just a few decades ago. However, this does not match some of the incentives that the wrestlers from other nations receive if they are able to win Olympic gold medals.

The trend about multiple medalists has been proven time and time again in international competition. A look at the champions from the 2005 World Championships shows that many of the gold medalists were past World and Olympic medal winners.

Of the 21 World Champions in all three styles, 14 are past World or Olympic medalists. In addition, in the 18 Olympic weight divisions, eight also won a medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, making them consecutive medal winners. An amazing 11 of the 21 World champions were previously a World or Olympic champion, making them a multiple gold medalist.

Fundraising for this program continues, with goals of increasing the levels of support available to the multiple-medal winners.