Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Wanted: tall, thin women to present medals


Models parade an Alviero Martini collection in Beijing on Nov. 9. Games organizers are looking for tall, slim women to present medals at next year's Olympics.


Beijing is seeking women presenters for medals ceremonies at the next year's Olympics -- but only those who are tall and thin need apply.

Hundreds of young women will be recruited as volunteers to present medals and raise flags at ceremonies for the Games, which open on Aug. 8, but they must meet stringent criteria.

"We have some very clear conditions and demands," explained Zhao Dongming, director of the Cultural Activities Department at Beijing's Organizing Committee for the Games.

"We have certain requirements for their height, since they are to present the medals to our athletes. They need to be of a height between 1.68 and 1.78 meters. That's above average," he said.

There was no requirement on their weight, Zhao said, but he added: "Generally speaking, they can't be too fat. Their figure should be good. They shouldn't be too heavy."

The guidance was so the women, who must be between 18 and 25 and university students, would fit into the uniforms being prepared for them, he said.

But good looks alone won't cut it.

"It is not enough just to have a beautiful appearance. They need to be healthy and they need to have dedicated training," Zhao said.

"They also must have a very clear understanding of the Olympic spirit and the Olympic movement," he said.

Meanwhile, Canadian athletes will be paid cash for the first time for medal-winning performances at the Beijing Olympics.

The incentive program is designed to compensate athletes for the financial burden of training, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced on Monday. Athletes will earn approximately US$20,000 for each gold medal, US$15,000 for silver and US$10,000 for bronze.

All Olympic sports are eligible, including team and individual competitions.

The US has paid prize money to medal-winning Olympians for years. At tlast year's Winter Olympics, athletes were given US$25,000 for gold, US$15,000 for silver and US$10,000 for bronze.

A cash program was debated for decades in Canada. The committee recently decide to reconfigure its finances to create a mix of training assistance and cash rewards.

"In most of those other countries that have large rewards at the end of the trip if you win a games, they have very little in the way of development programs leading into the games," committee president Michael Chambers said. "So it's all or nothing. That's not where we wanted to go."

Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden said it will be appreciated by athletes struggling to make ends meet.

"If you want me to go and compete with the world's best, then I've got to be able to train like the world's best," he said. "I don't think I should have to live in poverty in order to accomplish my goals."

Australia's Olympic medal hopefuls have been promised extra cash incentives in the lead-up to next year's Beijing Games amid fears the country could slip behind Britain on the medals table.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) have agreed to increase current funding levels for the country's leading hopes after predictions indicated they might finish as low as seventh on the medals table.

Australia finished fourth on the medals table at Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 but latest predictions have them slipping behind France, Germany and Britain.

AOC president John Coates said Australia were hoping to finish among the top five nations in Beijing, so had agreed to pay incentive bonuses to any competitors who had won medals at world championships this year.

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