Simmonds and Weir lead the charge to cash in on new-found star status
Golden girl of the pool can earn £500k a year with big-money deals also likely for familiar faces
Sunday 09 September 2012
Ellie Simmonds last night collected her fourth and final medal of the London Games. It was not the gold she wanted; instead she had to settle for silver behind her new rival, Victoria Arlen of the US, but she will still end the Games as one of a quartet of British stars set to break new ground in reaping financial rewards previously unknown to Paralympic athletes in this country.
Simmonds has become a household name over the past 11 days and along with David Weir, who goes for his fourth wheelchair racing gold medal in the marathon this morning, Jonnie Peacock, the new king of the blade runners, and the cyclist Sarah Storey, already with four golds to her name, is set to boost her earnings to around £500,000 a year.
The London Paralympics have been an unqualified success, with 2.7 million spectators attending and Channel 4 attracting record viewing figures for sport on the channel. The home athletes have done their bit too, with Simmonds catching the eye both for her sporting ability and effervescent personality. Similarly Peacock, at 19 two years Simmonds's senior, has become a star after upstaging Oscar Pistorius. There are those within the International Paralympic Committee who see Peacock, relatively unknown before these Games, replacing the great South African as the face of the Paralympics in the countdown to Rio in four years' time.
Simmonds, having won two gold medals in Beijing as a 13-year-old, is already well rewarded. She had pre-Games deals with adidas, BMW and Cadburys, all major Olympic sponsors, and her face overlooks the Olympic Park from a 60ft billboard on the neighbouring Westfield shopping centre.
Simmonds, who lives in Swansea, where she mixes training with A-level studies, could earn a sizeable increase on the £300,000 a year she is currently estimated to earn. Peacock is forecast to attract a similar level of interest, while Weir already has some major deals to his name – BMW, Lucozade and Virgin London Marathon – with more set to follow.
"I'm getting people phoning me up who may have not known Dave a month ago," said Jamie Baulch, the former Olympic medallist who is now Weir's manager. "The more you are in the public eye, the more you become a household name, the more financial rewards you get in sport. I think the future is going to be very bright for Dave."
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