Siraj Scores Sponsorship: Private Sponsors in Post-Funding Weightlifting

Siraj Scores Sponsorship: Private Sponsors in Post-Funding Weightlifting

The sport of Olympic weightlifting might be getting more popular, but the money isn’t finding its way to athletes’ pockets. This hasn’t stopped Britain’s best lifters chasing their dreams.

When we look at the big winners from the surge in popularity, it’s clear that big equipment companies like Rogue and CrossFit are winning, while BWL and our athletes aren’t.

There are a lot of reasons for this – among them, the fact that these organisations simply weren’t built to capitalise on this unexpected popularity.

However, when UK sport cut all athletes' funding following the Rio 2016 Olympic games (4 years after cutting Male funding), British athletes had to choose between their sport and their wallet. Since then, internationals have largely been funded out of athletes’ and coaches’ own pockets.

 Haroon ‘Rooni’ Siraj is one of the most promising and talented young athletes on the BWL scene at the moment – representing England at the 2017 Gold Coast Commonwealth Championships.

With an easy performance of 115/142 to sweep gold at the English championships in the 67kg class, speedy Siraj has his eyes on even bigger things in 2019.

 

He recently received a sponsorship with Alfreton-based travel company SC travel to support his athletic goals and with his previous performances, we’re expecting big things at this year’s British!

View this post on Instagram

I am happy to announce that I’ll be teaming up with SC Travel. They’ve agreed to sponsor my weightlifting career. To start off SC Travel have sent out some new training kit. As some of you may be aware the sport is overlooked for funding, meaning no athlete receives a salary for competing nationally or internationally. There's no financial support in this sport. To reach such levels I must push my body to it's limits whilst juggling life and it can be tough and stressful. So a big thank you to @jondavvvid at SC travel for giving me this opportunity, excited for the partnership. SC travel is a family run business who supports their local athletes. If people can give their Facebook page a like and share I would appreciate it, instagram page coming soon.

A post shared by Rooni Siraj (@roonisiraj) on

This is just the latest in a series of athletes using private sponsorship's to bolster their competitive ambitions. Other British athletes like Jack Oliver and Jordan Sakkas are on the list of competitive athletes with private support on their journey.

This comes to us with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, it’s fantastic to see that there’s a thriving culture of supporting local athletes. This is the kind of support that makes a niche sport like Weightlifting viable, with real people putting their weight behind our athletes.

On the other hand, it’d be nice if this was all a bonus on top of an existing, robust system to support athletes. What we’ve seen in Britain so far is a lag period between the popularity of Weightlifting and where the money goes.

It’ll be interesting to see what we can expect as BWL restructures its coaching, talent-development, and financial structure to keep pace with the new climate. We’ve seen a lot of structural changes and we’re hopeful that new leadership can ride the sport’s popularity to being financially successful.

It’s clear that we’re seeing change and the timing couldn’t be better as British athletes continue to represent at the World level, especially in the younger categories. The future for British weightlifting could be exceptionally bright if our NGBs and athletes can harness the wave of increased popularity.

Athletes are people first and there are layers of pressure to training for international competition that many of us will never see.

The support and belief of the people around our athletes is crucial to their continued development. We’re just hoping that this type of sponsorship's and support continues, and official channels find a way to amplify or produce these kinds of opportunities.

As fans and supporters, our interest in this sport drives the money and attention for the sport. Support your local weightlifter, share the sport with those you love, and hopefully the systems will arise to convert this to real-world resources for our athletes.


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