Top British sprinter puts himself on eBay after failing to find sponsor
By Miranda Bryant
This is London.com
6 Dec 2011
An athlete is putting himself up for auction after he failed to get the sponsorship he needs to fulfil his medal-winning dreams at the London 2012 Olympics.
James Ellington is the third fastest 200m runner in the country but missed out on a sponsorship deal after an injury forced him to take time out.
The 26-year-old from Croydon is rounding off his best season, running 200m in the fastest time by a British athlete this year at a non-altitude venue in 20.52 seconds. He came second in the national trials in July and fourth in the quarter finals of the World Championships.
But the father-of-one, who is the country's only top sprinter without a sponsor, has resorted to auctioning himself on eBay in a bid to get the minimum £30,000 of funds - a £15,000 wage and £15,000 for expenses - that he needs to give up his job as an athletics coach and focus on training full-time. He said this was vital to enable him to run the fastest times before the Olympics and secure a place in Team GB.
"It's tough but I don't hold any grudge. There are other people training full-time and I've still managed to beat them," he said.
"I just want to be on a level playing field and hopefully win a medal for Team GB. It's tough working, training and being a dad."
His eBay reserve is set at £30,000, for which he promises to wear the sponsor's branded kit at every appropriate opportunity until after the completion of the 2012 Games.
He said: "It would be a massive weight off my shoulders to focus on training without worrying about paying my bills. I will be much more confident if I get funding so next year I can afford physiotherapy and rehab to help improve my performance."
The UK Athletics World Class programme provides Mr Ellington with a contribution to help with everyday expenses and pays his medical bills, but he said he needs commercial sponsorship to put him on a level with his rivals.
Other than that funding, he earns a wage coaching under-privileged children in south-east London and supporting young athletes.