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."

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice