SKATING your way into Olympic history
and Australia's heart? Priceless. Personally funding your climb
up the world rankings to give your countrymen that Winter Games
glow? Bloody expensive.
Just ask the family of Games star Cheltzie
Lee, who have pleaded for financial help after maxing out their
savings to pay for the 16-year-old's sporting dream.
Despite finishing in the top 20 of last
week's women's figure-skating, the Sydney HSC student has -
so far - been given the cold-shoulder by the marketing world,
still without a single corporate sponsor.
Unlike her gold-medal rival Yu-Na Kim
of South Korea, who pockets $9 million each year in endorsements,
Lee touched down in Sydney on Wednesday night and faced numbers
of a different kind - a $12,000 bill for her place at the World
Championships in Italy in three weeks and last-minute cramming
for a Year 12 business studies exam.
While her parents, Renita and John have
carried all of the cost during Lee's career, the teenager says
the financial burden "is just wearing me down".
"You just feel the pressure to
perform because I know they've lost a lot of money on my skating."
There's no questioning her commitment,
scheduling two training sessions, a gym workout, physio and
her exam within 24 hours of her return from the Games.
Later this year she will pay to attend
an elite skating clinic in Colorado, where her rivals practise
four to six months of the year. She can only afford a six-week
visit, at a cost of $40,000.
Then there's coaching fees, rink hire,
new boots (at $700 a pop) every three to four months, the cost
of travel to competitions four times a year and this is one
But as Lee's mother Renita, a part-time
school teacher says: "People say it's a choice you make
for your sport and that's true, but when you do well the country
takes ownership of you and want to be a part of that success.
It would just be nice to have some financial support."