Athletics: Paula runs in New York to put earnings back on track

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The Independent Online

As she lines up for the New York City marathon this afternoon, her first race since her Olympic debacle, Paula Radcliffe will have more than just her reputation as the world's greatest long-distance runner at stake.

As she lines up for the New York City marathon this afternoon, her first race since her Olympic debacle, Paula Radcliffe will have more than just her reputation as the world's greatest long-distance runner at stake.

She will also be running to secure her future earnings. Two of her main sponsors have told The Independent on Sunday they will not continue their association with the athlete - and with an autobiography out next week, Radcliffe needs a good performance to get her earnings back on track.

Radcliffe's two-year deal with Vittel ends this month and the firm, which bottles natural spring water, does not intend to renew it. Likewise, her deal with Cadbury, the chocolate manufacturer, expires in December and there are no plans to negotiate a new one. A proposed deal with Quaker Oats, which was never signed, was scrapped after the Olympics.

That leaves Radcliffe's deals with Nike, the shoe manufacturer - by far her most lucrative deal - and another with a German firm, Winter Warm. Her contract with Nike is also due to expire at the end of the year, but a new deal could be worth even more than the $1m (£0.54m) contract she signed in 2001. At the end of this month she will be the star attraction at the 10km Nike Run London event.

Radcliffe's personal fortune is estimated at about £6m and she is being paid about £270,000 by the race sponsors to compete in New York. In two weeks her autobiography, My Story So Far, will be published for which she is believed to have been paid about £500,000.

But a spokeswoman for Vittel said their contract would not be renewed: "The contract was only ever for two years. Vittel enjoyed an extraordinarily successful relationship with Paula and she was a tremendous asset to the brand."

Tony Bilsborough, a spokesman for Cadbury, said: "We haven't got any plans in place with Paula. She was great for us and we remain big fans."

A spokeswoman at Radcliffe's agents Octagon said: "Paula has a fantastic relationship with all her sponsors. With every athlete there comes a time when interest tails off but hopefully that won't happen with Paula."

Eleven weeks ago, Radcliffe failed to finish the Olympic marathon in searing heat which she had been odds-on favourite to win. She then ran the 10,000m and failed to finish that, too.

Jon Smith, the chief executive of First Artists, one of the UK's leading sport agencies, said: "In New York, from a commercial perspective, she needs to get across the line - even if she crawls on all fours."

Her decision to run in New York so soon after the trauma of Athens has surprised athletics commentators. David Bedford, the race director for the London marathon and a former long-distance runner, said it was a "high-risk" strategy but would "draw a line under Athens" if she won.

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