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US Skater Donates Gold Medal Winnings to Darfur Refugees


American long track speedskater Joey Cheek won the men's Olympic 500-meters gold medal Monday night in Turin. And VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer reports he will donate his bonus money to an African nation.

Joey Cheek was the only skater to clock times below 35 seconds and he did it in both of his races (34.62 and 34.94, total of 1:09.76) to win the gold medal. They were the two best races of his career.

Russian Dmitry Dorofeyev won the silver medal (1:10.41) and South Korean Lee Kang Seok earned the bronze (1:10.43).

Cheek announced after the race that he was donating his entire $25,000 bonus money from the U.S. Olympic Committee to Right to Play. It's an organization of former Olympic, Paralympic and professional athletes worldwide who support using sport for development, health and peace.

Cheek says his donation will go to a specific project.

"In the Darfur region of Sudan, there have been tens and tens of thousands killed. My government labeled it a genocide, and so I will be donating money specifically to a program to help refugees in Chad, where there are over 60,000 children who have been displaced from their homes," he said. "And hopefully if the region ever gets stabilized, hopefully through pressure from the United Nations or from the U.S. government, or from some other agency, then we can go into Sudan and start programs in Sudan for refugees there, internally displaced refugees there."

Joey Cheek added that he will ask Olympic sponsors to match his donation to a Right to Play project.

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