Russia plans to triple the cash prize it pays gold medalists at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Athletes who bring home the gold will be eligible for 100,000 euros — $157,355 — compared with the $50,000 offered at previous Olympics, Russian Olympic Committee spokesman Gennady Shvets said.

Russia came third in the medal table four years ago in Athens behind the U.S. and China with 27 gold, 27 silver and 38 bronze medals.

After the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave Toyota and Lexus cars to Russia's 22 medal winners, Shvets said. The total value of the prizes is typically much higher, Shvets said, since regional governments, state agencies, companies and wealthy businessmen award individual prizes of "everything from money to new apartments."

After Russia unexpectedly progressed to the semi-finals of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament in June, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin announced that the government will spend 1.5 billion rubles ($60 million) annually in the next three years to develop the sport.

Russia will spend 14 billion rubles between 2009 and 2011 to prepare its athletes for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin said on June 30, the Interfax news service reported.