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The Olympic costs of coaching

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 02:38

Feb. 14 - Financing the Olympic dream has always been a struggle but while most athletes manage to secure sponsorship deals many coaches are often unpaid volunteers who struggle to make ends meet. Hayley Platt reports.

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John Powell used to be a runner now he coaches others. James Ellington is one of 19 young athletes in his squad. He's one of Britain's fastest 200 metre sprinters and is hoping to qualify for this summer's Olympics But achieving success doesn't come cheap. SOUNDBITE: John Powell, coach, saying (English): "Financially it's absolutely incredible. Last year 2011 we had pre-season training with James and other members of my group then we went to the world championships in South Korea, you're talking about 10 thousand pounds and up alone for that year before you even include other members of my group as well who travelled abroad too." SOUNDBITE: James Ellington, "If I get a medal then it's all been worth it. I mean if I make the final then it's an achievement as well because it's an Olympic Game. I've still got a few more years ahead of me but a medal at London this year would be amazing." James recently secured his first sponsorship deal from British toiletries firm King of Shaves worth £30,000. He also receives some funding from UK Sport. That will ease some of the financial pressure on him. But there's no sponsorship deal for John. Recently retired from the police force, his only income is from his pension and savings. SOUNDBITE: John Powell, coach, saying (English): "It's cost me a fortune. In fact, over the last few years, I've re-mortgaged my house no fewer than five times to finance various championships and supporting my athletes literally globally." There are more than 1 million sports coaches in the UK alone. 76 percent of them are volunteers. A top coach can earn at least 10 percent of their athlete's income - in the case of world champion sprinter Usain Bolt that could be millions. But for the thousands of volunteer coaches there's little financial reward. There's not even a guarantee of a track-side seat. In 2004 John acquired a rare accreditation to the Athens Olympics. But he won't be at this year's Games even if James does qualify. SOUNDBITE: John Powell, coach, saying (English): "Everybody I speak to just is horrified they can't believe that a coach that is involved in getting someone to the Olympic Games and in my case i've been coaching James a hell of a long time, to get him to an Olympic Games would be absolutely phenomenal from my point of view but there is no allowance for personal coaches to be there." John may not be able to cheer James in person at the Olympics. But he is hoping to share a little of any future rewards if James wins a medal. Hayley Platt, Reuters.

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The Olympic costs of coaching

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 02:38