Image: Chinese gold winners Wang Liqin, Wang Hao, and Ma Lin
Jens Buettner  /  EPA
Chinese gold winners, from left to right, Wang Liqin, Wang Hao and Ma Lin show their medals during the Medal Ceremony in the men's table tennis team gold medal event on Aug. 18. China is rewarding all of its gold medal winners with $51,000 each.
updated 8/26/2008 4:16:52 PM ET 2008-08-26T20:16:52

China's gold medal winners at the Beijing Olympics will be taking home cash along with their medals, state media reported Tuesday.

Each gold medalist will get $51,000 each, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Xiao Shan, the deputy head of China's General Administration of Sports.

The prize compares to the $29,000 handed out to gold medal winners after the 2004 Olympic games, the report said.

The report did not say if silver and bronze medalists were also to be rewarded. Phone calls to the press office of China's General Administration of Sports rang unanswered Tuesday.

China topped the gold-medal chart with 51 medals, a haul that was the largest since the Soviet Union won 55 in Seoul in 1988.

Overall, China won 100 medals in 25 different sports, including its first ever in sailing, beach volleyball and field hockey.

It was the first time since 1936 that a country other than the U.S. or the Soviet Union/Russia led the gold medal list. The U.S. trailed behind the Chinese in golds with 36.

It is not uncommon for countries to reward their medal-winning athletes to compensate them for the financial burden of training.

The United States has paid prize money to top Olympians for years. At the 2006 Winter Olympics, athletes were given $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.

Canadian athletes earned approximately $20,000 for each gold medal, $15,000 for each silver and $10,000 for each bronze won at the Beijing games, the first time the country has rewarded its athletes.

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