Many years ago, it would have been thought unbelievable that track athletes could survive without competing but not anymore if you are a Usain Bolt or a Mo Farah. Bolt hasn’t run in a normal competition for nearly one year but the Jamaican world champion sprinter still holds sway in the events of his choice. He was a notable absentee at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League and yet when he came to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to represent Jamaica last year for a one-off participation in the not-so-important relay, he hogged the limelight. Such is the invasion of business money in sports that the aura of Usain Bolt keeps sponsors and money-bags running after him. One couldn’t make out the injury that Bolt suffered from at Glasgow but one wonders how is fit enough for participation in non-athletic events like night-club dancing? The same is also true of British athlete Mo Farah, who has kept away from tracks for almost a year, except competing in glamorous city marathons or half-marathon. His managers say he is unfit but he is often seen in sponsored events of the least competitive value. It was unthinkable a few years ago that track athletes would survive without actually competing but Usain Bolt and Mo Farah are birds of the same incredible feathers. They are like Hollywood super heroes, who enjoy life to the hilt.
Usain Bolt is reportedly paid hefty sums by his sponsors because he cannot lead a lifestyle on track winnings alone. The Jamaican had his best performance during the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, where he won gold in three signature events; 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100 meters relay. Having already won at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics Bolt has sponsors and endorsers queuing at his door. One of them is the German sportswear company Puma, who has signed a $10 million a year contract with the world’s fastest man since 2013. The tenure of the contract goes through until 2016. In sharp contrast to Bolt’s earnings from track that touches $200,000, he has earned $ 23 million from sponsorship and endorsements. These are known figures but there are payments in kind like free air passage, free hotel stays etc.
Mo Farah shot to fame after his 2012 London Olympic victories in the 5000m and 10,000m. Like Bolt, Farah also has impressive earnings from sponsorships and endorsements and he charges a fee of £250,000 for each exhibition appearance. He has sponsorship deals with Virgin Media, Quorn, Lucozade and Nike that bring millions more. On Sunday, February 22, 2015, Mo Farah was an invitee at London’s former Olympic Stadium, where launching of Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games took place. These games will be staged on 24-25 July, 2015 at the iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and form part of the 2015 IAAF Diamond League. Farah announced that he would be one of the participants in this year’s Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games. He didn’t elaborate on his plans of other DL events. A day earlier on Saturday, the reigning Olympic, world and European 5000m and 10,000m champion ended all speculations in running a fantastic 2-miler at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, a part of IAAF’s final Indoor Permit meeting of the season. It was the fastest 2-mile coverage by any athlete in the past. News of Mo Farah running at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham brought his supporters in hordes. The venue got transformed into a mini version of London 2012 as Farah came out with guns blazing to set another world mark on Saturday. The 31-year old Farah didn’t look like having lost his edge as he eclipsed Kenenisa Bekele’s seven-year-old world record. The celebrated British athlete crossed the finish line in 8:03.40, taking away almost a second off Bekele’s figures of 8:04.35. Bekele had established this record on the same track and in the same meeting in 2008. Farah was running a serious race after almost a year since his double glory at the European Championships in Zurich. He hasn’t been seen in IAAF events lately except at City Marathons across the world. Saturday’s record was the first world record for a British athlete in a middle or long distance since Peter Elliott set an indoor 1500m mark of 3:34.20 in Seville in 27 February 1990. Last year in August, running on the same track, Farah had surpassed Steve Ovett’s European outdoor two mile record by clocking 8:07.85. Mo Farah has been cooling his heels since September 2014 after his half marathon victory in the Great North Run. Farah said after his victory that it was very special to finally break a world record on home soil. As per him, he has been training in Ethiopia for seven weeks before coming to Birmingham. Farah said he would join his family in the US for celebrations before going for a half marathon at Lisbon on March 22. Farah is also keen to defend his 5000m and 10,000m titles at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August.
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