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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sally Pearson won't compromise image as she looks to attract sponsors

Sally Pearson won't compromise image as she looks to attract sponsors

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Sally Pearson won't compromise image as she looks to attract sponsors

NOVEMBER 07, 2013

HIGH atop the AMP building Sally Pearson is midway through her speech, her autobiography just launched, when her thank yous skew somewhere altogether different.

Until now the speech has been ­going along normally, and a little ­nervously. That's the curious thing about this small diamond. Her mix of confidence and self doubt.

With a small shake in her voice Pearson is thanking her sponsors, one of whom is adidas, another you might have guessed is AMP, which provides the venue overlooking the most magnificent sight in this country, all of Sydney Harbour, and Pearson tells of their meeting last year.

"They said 'Will you win gold in London'?" she says. "And I said 'I can't guarantee it but that's the plan'."

She did, but the Olympic cycle was now over, four more years until the next one, and for some it didn't matter how well in London last year Pearson provided this country the moment that caused the heart to leap.

She is a woman first ... and that is her truth, and our shame.

"After winning gold in the Olympics I lost about five sponsors," she says. "Now Powerade have taken me on, after a long road of searching ..."

Five sponsors gone, because they didn't believe Pearson had enough in that smile of hers to stretch it four more years. Maybe they should take a look at her new book, Believe.

"It's tough," she says later.

"The most difficult thing is people say 'don't take it personally' when a sponsor leaves you, but you do take it personally.

"It feels like a job, if you get fired from a job you guess you're not good enough. It was more the support that I felt hurt about, not money-wise, not financially, I didn't care about that, it was more that they say goodbye now, as soon the Olympics were over.

"We've used you up and now we don't need you."

Sponsors are the lifeblood of Olympic athletes.

Most are punching tills without them, in between training sessions.

And as much as people try to fight the good battle, the truth is that what sells a lot better than a female athlete is a female athlete in a bikini.

"Sex sells, especially for women," Pearson says. "People like to see a bit of skin on female athletes.

"If they look good it's going to be easier. I find it really hard to take on.

"It means extra pressure. You can't just be good at your sport, you have to look good as well."

She doesn't want that, for a thousand different reasons.

"I'm getting recognised for my talent," she says. "I want to be that role model for the younger females. "

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