British Athletics needs to cash in on success like Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Co - Laura Williamson

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Tickets for the first two days of the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games sold out in 75 minutes on Friday morning, with thousands of fans clogging up phone lines and refreshing internet browsers to get a sought-after seat inside the Olympic Stadium.

Hundreds of thousands of people then lined the streets of the capital to support the Virgin London  Marathon on Sunday, with millions more watching the five-and-a-half hours of BBC TV coverage.

And yet athletics, we are told, is a sport that will attract significantly less sponsorship in the next four-year Olympic cycle than it did in the run-up to London 2012.

Demand: Tickets for the first two days of the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games sold out in 75 minutes

Support: Hundreds of thousands of fans lined the streets of the capital for the London Marathon on Sunday

Do me a favour.

British Athletics are targeting a ‘family’ of four or five sponsors to replace the £50million, five-year Aviva deal that ran out last December. So far Sainsbury’s have signed a ‘substantial’ deal to headline  three athletics events this summer, culminating in the three-day event inside the Olympic Stadium in July.

It is a quite brilliant marketing coup that will see their brand plastered over some of the world’s best athletes during seven hours of TV coverage, but Sainsbury’s’ long-term commitment extends only to British Athletics’ Paralympic programme.

Pay day: Mo Farah signed a two-year deal with the London Marathon, reportedly worth £450,000

The National Lottery was then announced as a further ‘partner’ for the Anniversary Games, despite the fact it will already contribute £87m a year of funding for Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes in the run up to the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

It is a ‘deeper and longer’ relationship, apparently, which sounds painful rather than promising any extra cash.

British Athletics argues that, although revenue has dipped, less money will be ring-fenced so they can spend it however they want in the run-up to the 2017 athletics World Championships in London. It could well be too late by then: just eight months after such a successful home Olympics, athletics needs to milk its appeal and popularity for all it is worth.

Face: Jessica Ennis signed a sponsorship deal with Santander

Superstar: Usain Bolt will earn around £2,000 a metre when he competes in the Anniversary Games

The most high-profile athletes seem to be managing, so why not the governing bodies?

UK Athletics rebranded as British Athletics — but it made no difference to the Aviva deal, while the IAAF lost Samsung as its £2.7m title sponsor for the prestigious Diamond League series.

Yet, on their way to Greenwich or Tower Bridge to see Mo Farah earn the first part of his £450,000 by running just short of a half-marathon on Sunday, people will no doubt have passed posters of Jessica Ennis smiling sweetly to entice them to open a Santander bank account.

Signed up: Saint Kitts and Nevis's Kim Collins will take part in the event at the Olympic Stadium


‘There's so much more to me than swimming,’ said 11-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte during a Fox News interview to promote his new reality TV show.

‘If you’re a man at night, you’ve got to be a man in the morning.’ The swimmer then proceeded to stare, dumbfounded, into the camera as the presenters doubled up in laughter. 

His TV show promises to be a hoot.

Usain Bolt will earn around £2,000 a metre to run two races at the Anniversary Games, despite his only known opponent so far in the 100 metres being Kim Collins, the 37-year-old who was kicked out of the Saint Kitts and Nevis team at London 2012 for popping to a hotel to visit his wife.

And why not? These athletes, or at least their advisers, have realised that they have a short window of opportunity to maximise their earning potential and are cashing in left, right and centre, as is their right.

The idea Olympic athletes have some moral obligation to sacrifice the big bucks because they are the descendants of an amateur era is utter, utopian nonsense. They are seizing the moment, just as they should. They could show the governing bodies a thing or two.


THOUGHT Southampton full-back Luke Shaw deserved a place on the PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist. We have, quite rightly, bemoaned the lack of English talent in the running for PFA Awards, but here is a  17-year-old who has been quite superb in his first Premier League season. The fact that he is a defender, though, has probably counted against him.

WATCHED the last day of the Blue Square Premier unfold on Saturday afternoon.

Forget a last-minute helicopter dash to deliver the trophy to the winners Mansfield Town: the fifth-tier prize was in a Ford Mondeo at Tamworth Services for most of the afternoon, just in case second-placed Kidderminster Harriers won the title. Football at its finest.

ENJOYED Paula Radcliffe’s commentary on the London Marathon. 

She was extremely knowledgeable and unafraid to share her forthright opinions or experience, and the women’s marathon world record-holder also possesses a soft, calming tone. 

Radcliffe is a welcome addition to the BBC athletics team.

Going up: Mansfield Town won the Blue Square Premier and promotion to the Football League


Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee won the San Diego leg of the World Triathlon series by 20 seconds after only six weeks of ‘meaningful training’, completing the final 10-kilometre run in  29 minutes and 30 seconds.

Even after a 1500m swim and 40km cycle ride, and despite walking the last 20m to the finish line, Brownlee’s time was only 34 seconds behind that of the leading man in the first 10km of yesterday’s Flora London Marathon.

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