What price success?


Thank goodness for the Olympics. The last true bastion of Corinthian sporting endeavour where athletes can compete on a level playing ground (literally and metaphorically).

Of course, to stand any chance of winning you?ll have to pour millions of pounds into a highly focused development system. You?ll have to work out which sports you are likely to win gold in (sailing, cycling, diving) and direct funds there at the cost of developing other sports.

You?ll need a big name sponsor to help pay for all this. And big name sponsors will want their pound of flesh. Or, in the case of Skandia and the Britsh Olympic hopefuls, they?ll demand 19 hours in a photo studio and a tin of gold paint. Oh, and the athletes will need to get their bits out to ensure coverage.

The PR puff that was sent out with these photos states that they are ?a result of 19 hours of photography by Ranald Mackechnie, and over nine hours spent in make-up with body painting specialist Phyllis Cohen? and that the five sailors thus lauded/humiliated are ?showing their desire to win Gold at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Qingdao?. The poor sods.

It?s bad enough working your socks off on the water without having to waste a day stripping off to get your sponsor some coverage.

That?s the way sport works today. Gold medals are expensive.