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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sally's earnings likely to top $1 million says Financial Review

Sally's earnings likely to top $1 million says Financial Review

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Rich pickings for a golden Olympics haul

Sally Pearson hurdling her way to an Olympic gold medal. Photo: Reuters

Marianna Papadakis, James Eyers and John Stensholt LONDON
The Australian Financial Review
09 Aug 2012

Sports business specialists say Sally Pearson’s heart-stopping win in the women’s 100 metre hurdles is likely to triple her earnings to a strong six­ figure sum, but track cyclist Anna Meares can expect far less of a fillip.

Pearson is already popular in the corporate world and among the highest-profile of the Australian Olympic athletes – her sponsors include AMP, Mitsubishi, Qantas and Coles – but being the only individual athletics gold medallist in London so far should boost her profile even more.

Athletics Australia president Rob Fildes says having Pearson competing in athletics is a tremendous boost for the sport in Australia.

“Sally is a fantastic role model,” he says. “She is young, fit and healthy. When you look at the whole Australian team she is right up there with the best.”

KordaMentha partner Berrick Wilson, who runs Chain Reaction, a cycling fundraiser for sick children, says there is no doubt Meares will be hot property, with companies chasing brand alignment.

Brian Levine, of celebrity management and sponsorship advisory Blinc International, says athletics has far wider appeal, giving Pearson an edge in the sponsorship market. But both athletes are bankable and humble, and were gracious winners.

“That endears them tremendously to the public and consumers, and makes them appealing to sponsors,” Levine says.

Sweeney Sports and Entertainment general manager Chris Styring agrees Pearson has a strong chance to attract non-sports brands, given her dominance of a sport that Australia has traditionally not been strong in and her unique performance pushing up her rate card.

Generally, the larger the audience and bigger appeal an athlete commands, the higher their commercial value and size of the endorsement deals they should expect to net.

While Meares may get much less, Styring says she could capitalise on the growing broad appeal of recreational cycling.

He says that in today’s closely scrutinised celebrity driven world, an ­athlete’s personality and behaviour would have a significant influence on an organisation’s decision to align themselves with them.

“She has a fantastic opportunity to appeal to the female market who have an interest in cycling and may not ­necessarily connect or relate to the Tour de France fraternity,” he says.

But the marketing manager of cycling sponsor Jayco Corporation, Andrew Ryan, says sponsorship for track cycling is different to road cycling. This means Meares is unlikely to attract the investment cyclist Cadel Evans has had, given the exposure and lengthy television coverage international road racing events such as the Tour de France brought.

“What they see in an actual individual depends on how they think they can leverage her and it depends on the message of the company,” Ryan says.

Athletics Australia had targeted winning four to six medals in London, which Filders says is still achievable.

Australia has another gold prospect on the weekend in pole vaulter Steve Hooker. Walker Jarred Tallent is considered a medal chance in the 50 kilometre race on Saturday, and javelin thrower Jarrod Bannister could sneak into medal contention if he throws close to his best.

There are high hopes for the 4x400 metre men’s relay team, particularly after 18-year-old Steve Solomon made the final of the 400m event after running two personal bests in his heat and the semi-final. While Solomon finished last, the final was notable as there were no United States runner in it – a rarity at the Olympics.

Solomon says he and his teammates are confident of a good showing. “I take a really positive outlook on all races and I think our 4x400m team is a really formidable one,” he says.

“On paper we have got four 44­second runners and we are up there with the best teams in the world. We are all coming into good form; team chemistry is really good.”

The relays start tonight Australian time, and the final is on Saturday morning, Australian time.

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