Jessica Ennis wins Olympic heptathlon for Britain
Britain’s Jessica Ennis is on her way to becoming the most marketable woman in world sport after her heptathlon gold validated her as the smiling face of the London Games.
A winning combination of looks and athleticism has made her the poster girl for the Games. The 26-year-old Jessica Enni, whose father is originally from Jamaica, symbolizes the positive multicultural image that Britain’s leaders want to show to the world.
One of her sponsors, British Airways, has even painted a huge figure of the athlete on a field close to Heathrow airport with the caption “Welcome to Our Turf.”
There was always the risk her advisers were setting her up for a big fall, but Ennis bloomed under pressure on Saturday night to surge to victory in the 800 meters, the last of her seven events.
“She is set up for life,” sports marketing expert Patrick Nally told Reuters. “She is the epitome of the London Games. Winning at home has that extra kudos and she will be able to trade off it for many years,” he added.
Ennis had been expected to earn around one million pounds this year but that will now be increased after a performance that will help sell her to the world.
“She is extremely marketable. She will be inundated and her management will need to make sure things are properly structured,” added Nally.
Ennis’s hometown, the northern English city of Sheffield, is famous internationaly for its steel products, part of Britain’s industrial heritage celebrated in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony.
She got training in her home city and lives near her parents with her boyfriend.
Part of her charm lies in her modesty in a country that is fixated with celebrity – after her victory, Ennis linked hands with her fellow contestants and bowed to the crowd, rather than rcieving the applause from the home crowd.
“She is unique in that she is the girl next door but has ability that the girl next door does not have,” according to the Danny Townsend of sports brand analysis company Repucom.
Townsend compared Ennis’ impact to that of Australian 400 meter runner Cathy Freeman, Australia’s first original athletics champion who took gold in Sydney in 2000.
“She can become a beacon for success and the social fabric of the country in the way she handles herself, the way she appears,” he said.
“FROM STADIUM TO CATWALK”
German sportswear company Adidas has worked with Ennis for seven years. The Briton missed out on the Games in 2008 because of injury, giving her success in London even more emotional impact.
“She is one of those athletes who work for us from stadium to catwalk to street,” said Nick Craggs, UK Marketing Manager for Adidas.
“She is one of the faces of women’s sport globally for Adidas,” he added.
“The awareness of who Jessica Ennis is and the understanding of her as an athlete and an individual has gone up a few notches on the global scale” he said.
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