Olympic chiefs told athletes to cash in on glory and charge 10,000 for appearances
23:09 GMT, 3 November 2012
Champion shooter Peter Wilson has revealed how Britain’s gold medallists at London 2012 were advised by their Olympic bosses to cash in on their fame by charging up to 10,000 a time for personal appearances.
Wilson, 26, took the gold for Britain in the double trap shooting and was the self-confessed ‘party animal’ of Team GB.
Now, three months on from topping the podium in a sport widely regarded as one of the ‘fringe’ events of the Olympics, Wilson says the response to his success has been ‘insane’.
Champion: Great Britain's Peter Wilson with his gold medal
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‘I’d never earned anything from shooting beyond around 9,000 a year from UK Sport in Lottery grants. Double trap is not exactly high profile, so I’ve never had a deal with Nike or anything like that or had commercial contracts.
‘But Team GB athletes were advised in the run-up to the Games that if we won medals we shouldn’t sell ourselves short afterwards, that we must make the most of the opportunity. There was a letter from the British Olympic Association saying that you could ask for something like 10,000 per event if you won gold and different amounts for silver and bronze.
‘I thought at the time “My God, you can’t charge that”. Except that you can and I’ve got an agent now who handles it all.’
Prior to the Games, Wilson, who still lives at his family’s Dorset farm, survived on his Lottery money plus expenses for travelling to competitions.
The BOA letter which urged medallists to make the most of their fame was, in fact, an annexe document to the Team GB athletes’ agreement. It advised on what winners might earn from involvement in a BOA appearance scheme in association with their commercial partners.
Wilson added: ‘I’m not saying I’m getting 10,000 every time I do anything now. I’ve done lots of charity things and I’d never ask for a penny for them. But the opportunities have been amazing. Winning gold at a home Games is a once in a lifetime thing and I’m going to make the most of it.’
Wilson says life has been a ‘blur’ since his triumph in August at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, a non-stop series of charity functions, award shows, corporate gigs and TV appearances, including Alan Titchmarch’s show, A Question of Sport and a secret project to be screened over Christmas.
He will also be at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show next month, along with his father, Charles, who had a moment of fame himself when, during live TV coverage of his son’s victory, he shouted: ‘Peter, remember me I’m your dad.’
Wilson was invited to the film premiere of The Sweeney but skipped that to go to another function with Prince Harry (‘A really lovely bloke and a really level-headed chap,’ according to Wilson).
Perks: Wilson meets Prime Minister David Cameron after his success
He has also met musician Myleene Klass (‘That was cool’) and actor Christopher Biggins (‘Brilliant guy, so interesting’) among umpteen other celebrities.
But another appointment in the near future will definitely be for free when Wilson attends the opening of an exhibition by his artist girlfriend of three years, Michelle McCullagh.
He will soon be visiting Dubai to see his coach and mentor, the millionaire Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, who won the double trap Olympic gold in 2004 and paired up with Wilson ‘over a coffee and a handshake’ at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Maktoum, who coaches Wilson for free, is recovering from heart surgery. ‘He’s just had a pacemaker fitted in America,’ said Wilson. ‘During the Olympics, I joked that I almost killed him off with the tension!’
Wilson does not hesitate for a second when asked to recall his most satisfying moment since winning gold.
‘You’re going to say, “Shut up Wilson, that’s too corny” but this is true,’ he said. ‘It was visiting the children’s ward at Dorchester Hospital not long after I won. There were all these kids with serious illnesses, and it was a privilege to be there. And I just thought “I am so bloody lucky”. And I’ve thought that every day since.’
Marathon man Mo
Mo Farah is the ‘dream participant’ the organisers of the London Marathon want as their marquee name for the men’s race in 2014 — with an appearance fee of around 250,000 likely to be part of any deal.
Marathon man Mo Farah could be tempted by the London race
Farah, 29, won double Olympic gold at London 2012 in the 10,000m and 5,000m and his coach, Alberto Salazar, says he could run the 10km and marathon double at the Rio Games. A debut marathon in London in 17 months’ time is possible — if the price is right.
Kauto spared racing’s grisly secret
Kauto Star’s retirement may have been greeted by a flood of tributes to the horse that won the Gold Cup twice and the King George VI Chase five times but animal rights groups claim most racehorses meet a far more grisly end than the privileged dotage that awaits the 12-year-old gelding.
Many racehorses are killed in Britain then sold for human consumption abroad, in Belgium and Italy particularly.
Kauto Star’s retirement followed Classic winner Frankel being sent to stud with the expectation that he would earn 100 million in fees.
But official figures compiled by the British Horseracing Authority show that 1,127 thoroughbreds left racing and were slaughtered in abattoirs last year.
Over and out: Kauto Star has been retired from racing
Dene Stansall, a spokesman for Animal Aid, said: ‘The shame of the industry is that nobody much cares about the fate of the bread and butter animals. Thousands are going to abattoirs and being turned into meat and we know that other animals are being shot in their stables and the meat given to the local hunt for their hounds.’
Grace Muir, whose Heros charity found homes for 84 of the estimated 7,500 horses that left Britain’s racing industry last year, claims many horses are killed each year when they stop being economically viable. Muir said: ‘It’s not something they [horse racing’s authorities] want to voice but I’m sure it happens.’
SPOTY plans a secret
Clare Balding, Gary Lineker and Sue Barker, the big-hitting BBC trio who will present the Sports Personality of the Year show, took a nocturnal helicopter flight over London last week to film footage for the programme, to be screened on December 16.
Sources claim the trip was part of plans to feature the presenters in a parody of of Danny Boyle’s ‘James Bond meets the Queen’ sequence from the Olympics opening ceremony. The Beeb are tight-lipped, saying they want ‘to save surprises for the big night’.