Ready, steady, go – the race to turn gold into millions

Britain's Olympic heroes in Beijing are being circled by increasing numbers of sports agents, multi-nationals and image consultants desperate to cash in on their new-found fame.

Behind the scenes in China's capital, newly crowned champions, from the swimmer Rebecca Adlington to the cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy, are being approached by PR gurus and corporate messengers, all waving blank cheques in the hope of attaching their brands to British sporting success at London 2012.

The rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), together with Olympic etiquette, censor the announcement of new deals during a tournament. But during the next few weeks the British Olympic Association (BOA) is expected to announce sponsorship contracts worth millions of pounds in several different sports. A BOA spokesman refused to be drawn on specific deals but, privately, officials admit that members of Team GB have been inundated with offers and inquiries from agents and sponsors.

Adlington, still only 19, has been the subject of more attention than most. She is the first British woman to win an Olympic swimming race in 50 years and the most successful British swimmer in a century, having smashed the world record for the 800m freestyle by two seconds which, having been set in the year of her birth, 1989, was the longest standing in the sport.

A spokesman for the governing body British Swimming, which represents Adlington, said: "Becky is still in Beijing after the most incredible week of her life. We've got to remember that she's only 19. Of course there will be a lot of sponsors queuing up but her priority is family time and rest."

Adlington, from Mansfield, who will shortly set off on a cruise around the Mediterranean, received phone calls from the producers of the BBC quiz show A Question of Sport even before she'd won her first gold. She is almost certain to get kit deals from the likes of Speedo or Adidas and could be endorsed by a bank or pharmaceutical company, for instance, to the tune of £150,000 a year. The new golden girl of British sport still receives an annual £1,000 grant from Mansfield district council for travel and accommodation costs. Over the weekend, she said she "got the feeling" her Lottery funding would go up from its current level of £12,000, but added: "I wouldn't accept anything that comes in the way of my swimming".

Ahead of Beijing, UK Athletics, the governing body, signed a deal with Alfa Romeo to provide all medal winners in track and field events with a sports car of their choice from the manufacturer. And Norwich Union agreed to pay £5,000, £4,000 and £3,000 respectively to winners of gold, silver and bronze medallists in athletics.

British stars of an earlier generation have made a fortune out of their sporting success. From 2001, Paula Radcliffe was paid £600,000 over four years by Nike, while Dame Kelly Holmes, an Olympic champion at 800m and 1500m, was awarded £100,000 from Reebok.

Mark Borkowski, author of The Fame Formula, said: "She [Adlington] compares well with Olympians like [rowers] Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, in that swimming is not an exclusively middle class sport. Adlington has so much genuine heroism about her ... and that ordinariness will serve her well."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living