Glory has high price for Cheltzie Lee
Article by Holly Byrnes, The Daily Telegraph
6 March, 2010

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 expensive dream.

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."