SPORT: Why gold medals alone won't help female athletes secure sponsorship.

Australian gold medallist, Sally Pearson






Almost a year since her heroic solo effort, Olympic gold medallist Sally Pearson is still struggling to gain lucrative sponsorship deals. Could it be, that I dare say perhaps, just perhaps, in this shallow day and age Pearson is simply not “good-looking” enough?

Before you scream “I can’t believe she went there,” let me first state I have always been an avid Pearson supporter.

During the London games last year I pointed out that all Australian media should be ashamed about the copious amount of attention swimmer Stephanie Rice endured by being friends with USA basketballer Kobe Bryant. It was a slap in the face to Pearson’s endeavor.

Oh yeah, that gold medal you won?  That’s great but excuse me while I scroll through the latest gallery of Steph and Kobe. After Pearson’s courageous effort, there was talk she could be in the vicinity of earning up to $2 million in sponsorship deals. A year on, we can see this was nothing more than an excited exaggeration.

Again I was outraged when sporting store giant Rebel Sport chose the ever so un-athletic cricket WAG Kyly Boldy. I wrote how Rebel Sport’s managing director Erica Berchtold proclaimed “It’s about time we had a female ambassador associated with sport”.

The frontrunner for the most idiotic comment of the year?

Amongst comments to my then article back in February, I stumbled across this beauty by a reader:
“Men like to watch attractive women, we don’t care about their attributes. Why make that simple fact more complicated than it is”.

Charming. I sure hope this gem of a man one day has a daughter who comes home crying from school because a boy told her she’s ugly.  See how you respond then, pal.

Amongst last months hoo-hah of Roxy’s latest TV commercial showcasing surfer Stephanie Gilmore lying around in her knickers, the deemed sexual objectification of Gilmore only boosted the exposure of the 5 time ASP World Champions err, “qualities”. Speaking of, what man doesn’t crush on fellow surfer Sally Fitzgibbon?  Let’s be honest guys, do you really care about surfing, or  for that matter follow her friend football/cricket darling Elyse Perry’s efforts on the field? The majority of you I’m sure would say no.


In contrast I’m sure you have heard of Pearson’s fellow Aussie hurdler Michelle Jenneke.  Jenneke’s best effort was winning the silver medal for the 100 m hurdles at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.

Michelle Jenneke (Photo taken from her Instagram account.)

Yet google her name or any of the others I’ve mentioned and you will find the adjectives “glamour” and “sexy” alongside alluring images. Pretty sad reflection of women in sport today huh? I’m well aware we are not the only nation that feels the need to sex up out female athletes, hence I don’t see this issue  going away.

Before you begin to think this is a sexist bash it’s not, I’m well too aware there are obviously lots of sporting codes chasing big money across the country. Still, does Pearson need to pose in next to nothing to gain more male attention thus attracting more sponsorship dollars? Or perhaps she needs to take a leaf out of compatriot Jenneke and gyrate before every hurdle race?

Or do you as an Australian merely find athletics tedious due to the lack of coverage?

Regardless of any opinion the fact is Pearson will just have continue to train her heart out while living a modest lifestyle.

Bottom line? The greatest reward of all unfortunately is priceless.


And, here’s your weekly report of what’s going on in women’s sport:

The Southern Stars defeated England by 116 runs to win the first Ashes test. Meg Lanning was the top scorer of the test, posting 104 runs. You can check out our interview with Meg, here.

The Diamonds have selected two separate teams to take to their upcoming international series against New Zealand and Malawi. One notable absentee is shooter Catherine Cox, who withdrew from the selection camp, citing fatigue.

Natalie Medhurst has announced that she is leaving the Queensland Firebirds to play for the West Coast Fever. The goal attack said: “”I want to have an impact with Fever and help get them to where they want to be, and to taste the kind of success I’ve had here with the Firebirds.”

Samantha Stosur has defeated Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka to win the Southern California Open. The win is Stosur’s first title in over two years. The tournament is one of the major tournaments before the US Open.

And, Forbes have released their list of 2013’s best-paid female athletes. Tennis players dominated the list, which is posted below:

1. Maria Sharapova (RUS), tennis, $29 million

2. Serena Williams (USA), tennis, $20.5 million

3. Li Na (CHN), tennis, $18.2 million

4. Victoria Azarenka (BLR), tennis, $15.7 million

5. Danica Patrick (USA), Nascar, $15 million

6. Kim Yuna (KOR), figure skating, $14 million

7. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN), tennis, $13.6 million

8. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), tennis, $7.4 million

9. Ana Ivanovic (SRB), tennis, $7 million

10. Paula Creamer (USA), golf, $5.5 million.


Have you seen anything happening in women’s sport this week that you want to talk about?