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U.S. Olympic leaders vote to give equal pay to Paralympic athletes

U.S. Olympic Committee leaders voted Friday to give Paralympic medal winners the same payout that goes to their counterparts on the U.S. Olympic team.

American athletes who reach the podium at the Summer and Winter Games have traditionally earned cash payments by way of the Operation Gold Awards program. But, in the past, Paralympians received less.

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Now, with the USOC board’s decision, all Americans will receive $37,500 for each gold medal, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.

“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure that we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” said Sarah Hirshland, the new USOC chief executive.

The U.S. Paralympic team led all nations with 36 medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this year.

Oksana Masters won two golds, two silvers and a bronze in cross-country and biathlon. The U.S. sled hockey team captured its third consecutive Paralympic title and the Nordic ski team won 16 medals.

The new payment structure was made retroactive, so the USOC will distribute more than $1.2 million to medalists from the Pyeongchang squad.

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