Forget the starving athlete scenario for Jason Tunks. It's over. And now it's one for the money, two for the show this summer as he begins a run of competitions today in Spain.
That's for the money; the show is his third Olympic Games in August.
If Tunks were in line for a record 11th straight national championship in many other countries, the discus giant from London would assuredly be pretty well-off financially.
But that said, he's not among the athletic needy going into today's Grand Prix event in Seville. He got $2,500 plus expenses to show up for the Seville meet, for example, and could pocket $5,000 with a win, lesser amounts down to eighth place.
There's nothing like an Olympic year for a world-ranked athlete to make hay. Tunks moves on to Zaragoza, Spain, for another meet Tuesday, then on to meets this month in Bislett, Norway, and Lieden and Papendal, Netherlands, before winding up in Rome on July 2.
After that, he'll return to Canada for the July 9-11 Canadian track and field championships in Victoria. Last year, his 10th straight discus championship (counting a junior title), was a consecutive record for a Canadian track and field athlete in one event.
His close friend, Windsor shot putter Brad Snyder, might have been close to a long run had Tunks not beaten him in the shot put in 1997.
As it stands, there's a strong chance Tunks could eventually amass a mark that would be nearly untouchable. He intends to continue throwing another 10 or 12 years.
For a guy not likely to drop out of the elite throwers for some time, his career is starting to pay off.
The meets in Norway and Italy are Golden League events, which brings together all the best athletes available (Tunks had fifth-best throw in the world as of last week) for more serious money.
Prizes range from $13,000 to win to $1,700 for eighth place.
"It's not bad," Tunks said before leaving. "Expenses are high, though."
Tunks estimates his expenses as between $22,000 and $24,000 a year to train and compete at the top level.
As an A-carded athlete, he receives $1,100 a month from Sport Canada. As long as he remains among the world's elite, the invitations, appearance money and performance awards make his single-minded devotion to hurling the discus worthwhile.
He doesn't live as extravagantly as pro athletes in other sports but he has done well enough to have bought a new home near Sunningdale Golf Club. Moreover, he has a "teammate" whose competitive and financial life matches his own.
The career of his wife Lieja pretty well parallels his. Lieja Tunks is Dutch shot put champ and along with a Dutch government subsidy similar to her husband's, her expenses are covered by a sports drink company in her homeland.
Tunks signed a deal this year with Home Hardware.
"Basically, what Home Hardware did was pick up my expenses," he said. "It's perfect -- a strong Canadian company that stepped up when another (Home Depot) decided not to. It's a load off my mind, something I don't have to worry about while training."
Not that he's worry-free. A bone spur and cyst in his ankle are the latest of a run of injuries. He had cortisone shots before leaving for Europe and has been on anti-inflammatories and pain-killers.
"The cortisone helped a lot," he said. "I found that sometimes I couldn't move the way I'm supposed to. But I've been able to get back to hard, consistent throws."
Money-makers, he hopes. And a prelude to what his life is really all about -- the Olympics.