Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

What next for Team GB's Olympic stars?

For some riches and fame await. Others will simply return to their day jobs or get to work on those things they've been putting off for the last four years – such as getting hitched. For a handful of Britain's 800 athletes, life will never be the same again.

Those who brought the magic moments to the Games will have brands falling over themselves to piggyback on their new-found fame. Britain is in love with its sporting heroes and advertisers are desperate to get in on the action while the euphoria still lasts.



Golden girl Jessica Ennis, who already benefitted from a lucrative deal with Olympic sponsors Proctor and Gamble, looks set to continue being "the face of the Games" following her sensational heptathlon gold. The same goes for other Olympic veterans such as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Ben Ainslie, who have proven that they can win medals at multiple Olympics.



But brands will be equally keen to sign up comparatively new heavy hitters such as Mo Farah, Laura Trott, Katherine Grainger, Gemma Gibbons and Jade Jones.



"I think the women will do particularly well," predicts Owen Lee, executive creative director at the advertising agency Inferno. "It's been a very female-focused Games. A few weeks ago they might have walked down Oxford Street unnoticed."



He believes brands are attracted to athletes because the values they stand for are more valuable than the current crop of celebrities, many of whom are just famous for being famous.



"These are people who have been driven from childhood and have quietly gone about their work to absolutely deliver when it mattered most," he said. "Compare that to the actions of the average professional footballer or a celebrity and it's something very powerful. Brands will want to associate themselves with the values they stand for."



Others may use the Olympics as a springboard towards a lucrative professional career. Anthony Joshua, who won Britain's last gold in the super-heavyweight boxing final, could make millions should he decide to turn professional and follow in the path of fellow Olympic champions that were once in his position – Lennox Lewis and Audley Harrison.



It cannot have escaped the 22-year-old's attention that one of those in the audience to see his final bout was Richard Schaefer, the chief executive of Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.



But so far Joshua has insisted he's not interested in the big bucks. "This has never been about money," he told The Sun. "I will stay amateur for as long as possible. I quite like the sound of Rio 2016."



For others, retirement beckons. Beth Tweddle, Ben Ainslie and Victoria Pendleton are just some of Britain's sporting greats who came of age at Beijing and earlier games and can now leave the London arena with their Olympic reputations cemented in the annals of history.



But given how much of their lives have been dedicated to championing physical perfection it is unlikely any of our Olympic veterans will become couch potatoes any time soon. Tweddle has a host of adrenaline sports lined up ahead of her now that she no longer has to worry about an injury ruining her gymnastics career. In an interview with The Independent last week, her parents said she was planning to try out skiing, abseiling, wing walking and climbing when she returns from a much-deserved holiday.



Pendleton, who has given more than a decade to track cycling, has her heart set on motherhood whilst Ainslie – now the greatest Olympic sailor in history – has just days before he flies to San Francisco for his next sporting challenge – the America's Cup.



Not all our athletes have had the luxury of being able to train full-time and many will return to their day jobs. Ed McKeever, the accountant who won gold in the kayak sprint, is set to return to the office, while gold medal rower Heather Stanning was temporarily released from duty with the Royal Artillery to compete in the Games and might be in Afghanistan by the end of the year. Weightlifter Natasha Perdue, meanwhile, is set to return to Leeds and take up her old post as a refuse collector.



And to keep the pages of the weekly glossies happy, there are a spate of Olympic weddings to plan. Many athletes put off their impending nuptials to concentrate solely on the Games. McKeever is planning to tie the knot with his PE teacher girlfriend next month.



Rower Zac Purchase, who was left distraught when he and teammate Mark Hunter missed out on gold to come away with a silver medal in the men's lightweight double sculls, gets married next week.



And Keri-Anne Payne, who agonisingly missed out on a medal by less than a second in the 10km swim, can at least console herself with her upcoming nuptials to fellow Olympic swimmer David Carry.



Golden futures: The winners



Mo Farah



London 2012's poster boy will be an instant hit with advertisers thanks to his double gold medal-winning streak, infectious personality and empowering back story. A pin-up for Islam, multiculturalism, hard work and fatherhood, his appeal is virtually endless.



Laura Trott



As 'Queen Victoria' retires, step up Laura Trott, the new face of women's cycling. Brands will love her looks, her success and her blossoming relationship with fellow cycling star Jason Kenny. The tabloids will love it too, giving her even more publicity.



Nicola Adams



Women boxers traditionally have a much tougher time than their male counterparts when it comes to sponsorship deals but following her electrifying victory in the flyweight division, Leeds-born Adams might just change that.



Anthony Joshua



The super heavyweight champion has the kind of back story advertisers dream of. He pulled his life together following a teenage drug conviction using boxing and within four years of picking up a pair of gloves won gold at the Olympics.



Gemma Gibbons



The girl from Greenwich captured the nation's heart when she looked up and thanked her recently deceased mother as she won a silver in judo.

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