altApril 6 - More than £60 million pounds is to be invested into the preparations for Belarusian athletes for London 2012, including Olympic hammer champion Aksana Miankova (pictured), the Government in Minsk announced today.


The massive injection of 297.4 billion rubles (£60.2 million) has been authorised by Alexander Lukashenko, the country's President and head of the National Olympic Committee, who had claimed that the team should have done better at last year's Games in Beijing where they left with 19 medals, including four gold, to finish 16th overall.


A total of 132 billion rubles (£26.7 million) will be provided for Olympic hopefuls’ preparations for London 2012 with the rest being spent on wages for coaches and support staff and funding foreign competitions and training camps.


The programme will be funded by the country's National Lottery, the Superlato.


Belarus made its debut in the Summer Olympics as an independent country at the Games in Atlanta in 1996, where rower Ekaterina Karsten won the country's first-ever gold medal with victory in the single sculls event.


Overall, they won a total of 15 medals in those Games.


Their best performance came at Beijing last year.


But the team's performance was overshadowed by the disqualification of male hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan tested positive for abnormal levels of testosterone after finishing second and third.


All the medallists from Beijing, including Miankova, were rewarded financially by Lukashenko.


Gold medallists were awarded $100,000 (£67,870) for gold, $50,000 (£33,935) for silver and $30,000 (£20,361) for bronze.


The same rewards will be offered for Belarus medallists at next year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver.


The country has yet to win a gold medal in the Winter Games.


Their best performance was at Lillehammer on their very first appearance in1994 when they won two silver medals.