Sunday, March 29, 2009
Free(ballin') Man in Paris
Pole Vaulter Runs Naked PR Run in Paris
As the global economic downturn begins to impact on the world of sport, one French athlete has come up with an unusual way to try to secure a new sponsorship deal. Pole-vaulting champion Romain Mesnil, whose contract with the sports brand Nike was not renewed when it expired last year, has run naked with his pole through the streets of Paris and posted a video of his caper online.
The musclebound 31-year-old is seen loping through the streets with his pole as if preparing for a vault at tourist spots like Montmartre and the Pont des Arts across the river Seine. A black square has been tactfully added to the footage to cover his private parts.
Mesnil, who won a silver medal at the 2007 Athletics World Championships, in Osaka, wrote on his website of Nike's decision not to renew his contract: "It was probably for budgetary and strategic reasons. It's the crisis."
Many athletes have reported difficulties obtaining corporate sponsorship as companies cut costs because of the world financial crisis. So far, Mesnil's stunt has earned him coverage on prime time state TV news bulletins. It may win him some new fans, more impressed by his physique than his sporting prowess. But will it get him a new deal?
One of my big disappointments at Chicago's Gay Games VI in 2006 was not being able to compete in pole vault, since I'd cracked a rib in wrestling the day before. I could only vault 6 feet tops, which is rather lame. The other four track events I competed in were less painful. Oh, I was also doing a ton of media interviews and taking photos. Over-extended much?
SF's Track and Field team will host their third annual track meet this summer at San Francisco State University's Cox Stadium.
Mesnil's stunt might be a great promotional event for our tracksters. However, I don't know how many other teammates would go for it!