Belarus encourages athletes with...sausage for life

MINSK, Aug 8 (Reuters) - A meat producer in Belarus has found what it says is the perfect way to motivate the ex-Soviet state's athletes at the Beijing Olympics -- offer gold medallists a lifetime supply of sausage.

"We haven't yet worked out how this will be done. But once or twice a month, we will provide athletes with some of our products," Boris Tsiporin, director of the Belatmit company told Reuters on Friday.

"Naturally, we will take into account the athletes' tastes and choose with them the sort of goods they want."

Belarus's women's basketball team, particularly popular in the country of 10 million, will get special treatment -- any medal will earn members sausage for life.

Belarus pays considerable attention to sport and particularly Olympic sport. President Alexander Lukashenko, accused in the West of flouting human rights, chairs the National Olympic Committee and is an avid ice hockey player.

Gold medallists will receive from other sponsors $100,000, silver medallists are promised $50,000 and bronze medallists $30,000.

About 200 Belarussian athletes are competing in 26 sports at the Games and sports officials hope to see the country among the top 20 in the medal count. Their best chances are in athletics, weightlifting, rowing and shooting. (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky, writing by Ron Popeski)



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