PAYING prize money to track and field athletes at the Paris Olympic Games is unfair on competitors in other sports, according to sporting legend Sir Steve Redgrave.

He was commenting on an announcement from World Athletics that it will pay gold medal winners $50,000 (£39,400) at the Paris games.

Sir Steve told GB News: “Athletes that are training for the Olympics across all the sports are training professionally. Some of them do not get paid for doing that, as the era that I came through.

“They are training full-time, they are the entertainment elements of the Olympic Games, so the face of the games, but I was surprised by athletics taking this move. It’s taking it to a different step.

“The problem is that most of the other sports won’t be able to follow this.”

In a discussion with Bev Turner and Andrew Pierce, he continued: “The figurehead of the Olympic Games of all sports is athletics.

“They are the sort of the pinnacle of all the sports, but sports like mine, rowing, or some of the combat sports just won’t be able to afford to do the same thing.

“I would prefer that money to be put into the development of the sport of maybe poorer nations within athletics, of being able to enhance them.

“They’re giving money to the gold medallist, and I think what they’re saying is in four years’ time in LA, there will be money for silver and bronze.”

He said: “Athletics is so high profile that if you are good enough and lucky enough to win a gold medal or medals in future within athletics, you’re probably going to be able to earn endorsements, prize money, appearance money, you’re going to get that anyway.

“There are 28 to 32 Olympic sports now…but then you’re giving the money to the people that are probably more capable of earning the money than in any other sport within the Olympic process and that just doesn’t seem fair.”

Sir Steve added: “There are certain sports that are more privileged financially than others. But that’s the whole thing about the Olympics, everyone’s on a level platform from that and you’re making this into a two-tier process.

“Surely you can do something much better than giving those athletes that are probably earning much more than that already to other sports or developing your own sport.

“So have a little bit of lateral thinking. This is to me the wrong direction.”