Greg Rutherford does not want this to be an “oh, woe is me” tale but there are some myths he would like to explode about life after Super Saturday.

One or two fellow athletes were recently aiming digs at him on Twitter about his enthusiasm for making TV appearances, while several celebrity magazines have alluded to his millionaire lifestyle since winning Olympic long jump gold.

He was even upbraided by a local shopkeeper when he attempted to buy a lottery ticket. “Why are you playing this?” he said. “You’re already rich!”

If only it were true. While many would assume an Olympic gold medal is a passport to a raft of lucrative endorsement deals, the reality is that Rutherford does not have a single sponsor to his name. Even his long-standing kit contract with Nike has gone west.

Without any income other than competition appearance fees and prize money, Rutherford says TV appearances and speaking engagements have become a necessity to pay the mortgage, despite eating into his rest days from training.

“I’m not poor,” he said. “I’d be lying if I said I was. But if people believe that the reason I go on TV is because I love the sound of my own voice, that is completely and utterly wrong.

"Range Rover gave me a lease car that I can drive for free, which is amazing, and Omega gave me a watch.

"That’s all fantastic, and there have been some free clothes here and there, but ultimately it doesn’t put food on the table, so you are in a scenario where you are forced to do promotions and appearances.

“But that creates a vicious circle because if you’re doing things like speaking events, you’re then taking away from your training.”

Rutherford admits the end of his kit retainer, the bread and butter of a professional athlete’s income, has come as a “complete kick in the teeth” and was not what he expected in the afterglow of his Olympic triumph.

“I thought I was quids in,” he said. “I was sitting there thinking, 'This is going to be brilliant. My Nike contract is up for renewal at the end of the year and I’m going to have all the other endorsements coming in’.

“All track and field athletes do the sport purely for the love of it, but people have to remember that you still have to earn a living. You can’t do athletics if you don’t. So after winning the gold I was thinking: 'This will make everything easy. I won’t have to worry about finances and I can just concentrate on becoming the best athlete I can be’. But in reality it doesn’t work like that. Or it hasn’t in my case.”

Rather than being rewarded with an enhanced Nike deal, Rutherford was shocked to be offered a reduced contract on terms he was unable to accept.

“They offered me a contract but the clauses were such that, by the end of this year, I would end up earning probably less than I would have done on my old junior contract, I would be completely tied to it and unable to do nothing else, as they would own all my image rights ” he said.

“To sign a contract for a lower amount with horrible clauses, why would you do that? You’re in a scenario where you have to say, 'I’m not prepared to accept that’.

A spokesman for Nike said last night that the company did not comment on individual contracts.

Rutherford added: “It’s very frustrating because I’ve been with them a long time. They cut back my retainer at the end of 2011 because I got injured at the worlds, so I was a bit frustrated by that.

“Then I’m thinking, with the years I’ve been with them, surely winning that gold medal would put me in good stead to be offered a great contract. All you want is to be shown some respect and for people to say, 'You’ve done well and we will reward you for that’.”

Rutherford, who first signed with Nike in 2005, says the reason given by the company for not offering an improved deal was that they were concentrating on younger, up-and-coming athletes.

It is a justification he finds hard to fathom given his new-found fame. The implication, he says, is that the company has no faith in his future as a long jumper, which is hurtful in the extreme.

“It’s as if they’re saying, 'You’ve done really well at the Olympics but you’ll never do it again and so we’re not interested’.

“Sally Pearson tweeted about the exact same thing happening to her after she won the 100 metres hurdles gold. That an athlete would actually lose sponsorship after winning Olympic gold is a remarkable turn of events. I’m only 26.

It’s not like my career is coming towards an end. If anything, I’d like to think it’s just beginning.

“Looking at the world of long jumping, it’s not as if on that day I had a fluke jump and beat guys who were jumping much further than me. I went into the Olympics as No 1 in the world. For the past however many years now I’ve been in the world top 10 as a jumper.

“It’s like being the best in the business and they tell you that they’ve brought along some intern and they’re going to pay him more than you purely because they possibly might do well in the future. Surely, that’s not how it should work.”

No longer tied to a kit sponsor, Rutherford made a point of wearing his Milton Keynes club vest in his Diamond League opener in Shanghai this month.

He also has plans to set up his own clothing brand, 'GRavity’, and wore a prototype vest at last Saturday’s BT Great CityGames in Manchester.

“From my point of view, it’s a bit of therapy,” he said.

“If you’re wearing kit from your own start-up company, then you don’t have to feel you’re being controlled by the kit companies.”

It is not only Rutherford’s Nike deal that has disappeared. He had affiliations with a few other brands in the run-up to the Olympics but no longer receives any income from them.

“People weren’t paying much to see me endorsing their brand because I didn’t have a gold medal, but they still have the images of me which they can use now,” he said.

His situation is in contrast to the high-profile post-Olympic endorsement deals signed by some fellow Olympians, not least his 'Super Saturday’ co-stars Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, but he insists there is no jealousy whatsoever.

“Everything they do helps to promote our sport, so every time Jess or Mo or Usain Bolt are out there doing something, people are remembering that they are from track and field,” he said.

“You can’t be jealous or bitter about other people doing well with financial things and deals. The top athletes in our sport should earn money. Long may it continue for them. My concern is people believe I’m in the same boat, and I’m definitely not.

“I would never put myself in the same boat as those guys anyway, and I’m not saying that I think I should be earning that kind of money. But I sacrificed most things in my life in order to do well and then when you do really well you would like to think there’s a reason why you do it.

“There is a bizarre culture in British athletics where people berate the athletes for making money. Look at the outcry at Mo being paid to run in the London Marathon . But what incentive is there for others to take up athletics instead of other sports when you can win the Olympics and not really get anything from it?”

How Super Saturday heroes have fared

Greg Rutherford

Sponsorships signed since the Olympics None

Other sponsorship None. Rutherford’s kit deal with Nike expired in December.

Other income Apart from competition appearance fees and prize money, Rutherford’s earnings come from TV appearances and speaking engagements.


Jessica Ennis

Sponsorship deals signed since the Olympics

Sky Sports Living for Sport: Her first post-Olympic deal. She is an ambassador for the initiative, which aims to improve life skills among secondary schoolchildren.
Pruhealth: Ennis became 'Vitality Ambassador’ for the private health insurance company in January.
Santander: The Spanish banking group signed Ennis in February to become the female face of its UK brand. She has since appeared in a TV advertising campaign with F1 driver Jenson Button and golfer Rory McIlroy.

Sponsorship deals renewed since the Olympics

Olay: Ennis is the face of Olay Essentials.
Omega: She is brand ambassador for the watchmakers.
Jaguar: She is an ambassador for the Jaguar Academy of Sport and drives an XKR.
Powerade: Sports drink has backed her since 2010.
Other sponsor: Adidas: Kit deal runs until end of 2013.
Book deal: Ennis’s autobiography, Unbelievable, was published in November.


Mo Farah

Sponsorship deal signed since the Olympics

Virgin Media: Within days of double gold, Farah was signed up to front a TV advertising campaign alongside Usain Bolt. Continues to promote the company’s broadband.
Other sponsorship Nike: He switched from Adidas in 2011 so he could work with American coach Alberto Salazar at Nike-sponsored Oregon Project in Portland.
Merchandising Since the Olympics, a company set up by Farah has trademarked his name and his 'Mobot’ gesture. He is planning to branch out into perfume, clothing, computer games and branded beer mats.
Marathon windfall Farah signed a deal understood to be worth a total £450,000 to run the first half of this year’s Virgin London Marathon before running the full 26.2-mile race next year.