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British athlete puts self on eBay

Sprinter uses auction to get sponsors for London Olympics

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A British sprinter has put himself on sale on eBay to try to get the sponsorship he needs to run in the London 2012 Olympics.

James Ellington, who is the UK’s third fastest 200m runner, missed out on getting a sponsorship deal after four years of injuries, but is now coming from “his best ever season”, according to the eBay ad.

This year, he ran the fastest 200m time by a British athlete at a non-altitude venue, completing the distance in 20.52 seconds.

Throughout this season, Ellington has been working part-time as a coach in South East London to support himself, but now wants to train full time for the Olympics next year.

The UK Athletics World Class programme already gives Ellington some funds to help with everyday expenses and medical bills, but he needs commercial sponsorship to train full time.

The Croydon resident has put a reserve of £30,000 on the bidding, half of which would be his wage while the remaining £15,000 will pay for expenses “from travel and accommodation to nutritional support and kit”.

“I’ve taken matters into my own hands – and am looking for sponsorship on eBay!” Ellington’s website said. “I’m offering to wear the kit of the sponsor at all appropriate opportunities from the end of the auction until the climax of the 2012 London Olympic Games.”

Ellington told The Register that he had tried the traditional routes to get sponsorship, but he hadn’t had much response.

“Injuries coming at the wrong time contribute a large part to not getting sponsorship, but it’s about building a profile as well,” he said.

Since the ad went up on eBay today “the phone’s been going mental”, he said, adding that the publicity of the auction was likely to do as much for his sponsorship chances as the bidding itself. ®

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