Rhasidat Adeleke, Sharlene Mawdsley and Ciara Mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Ireland's glamorous medal-winning track stars are a 'sponsor's dream', former athletics star-turned-businesswoman Derval O'Rourke has said.

And a leading sports sponsorship consultancy said our medal-winning heroes can expect to command six-figure international contracts and be plastered 'all over' back-to-school campaigns after the Olympics in August.

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Rhasidat Adeleke and Sharlene Mawdsley 'catapulted' both the mixed and women's relay 4x400m teams to podium finishes at the championships, while Ms Adeleke and Ciara Mageean also won individual medals - the latter a gold in the 1,500m.

rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Ciara Mageean of Ireland celebrates winning the women's 1500m final during day three of the 2024 European Athletics Championships at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Pic: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Former hurdler Ms O'Rourke, who won two European silver medals in her decorated career, said the triumphant athletes are 'a sponsor's dream, to be honest'.

She told the Irish Mail on Sunday: 'Their personalities are brilliant and they're very relatable, and we're in a time where you want sports and exercise and movement.'

The Irish 60-metre hurdles record-holder singled out Ms Adeleke and Ms Mawdsley, who are 'kind of guaranteed their spots' on the Irish Olympic relay team thanks to phenomenal performances, while the others are 'still up for grabs a bit'.

rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Rhasidat Adeleke. Pic: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

She added: 'But I think they're gold. If I had brand money or sponsor money and I was doing something, I'd certainly be saying this team and these athletes really tick a lot of boxes.'

Ms O'Rourke said we are in a 'different era' from when she was competing, with people having 'much more access' to athletes through social media and the athletes being happy to embrace that.

'They've grown up in this social media world so they're very used to being on their phones and taking content on their phone. And I think their personalities are way more a part of athletics than maybe it would have been 15 years ago, because you just had TV coverage, print media and the mixed zone [where athletes are interviewed after races].

rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Ireland’s Chris O’Donnell, Rhasidat Adeleke, Sharlene Mawdsley and Tom Barr celebrate winning gold. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

'Now there's much more opportunity to get to know the athletes, and those mediums maybe feel a bit more approachable and a bit more relaxed for the athletes - and I love seeing that because all their stories are so interesting.'

Kelli O'Keeffe, who is managing director of the sports advisory practice in the PR and advisory company Teneo, said the 'phenomenal' success of the Europeans has 'really put these athletes on the map ahead of the Olympics'.

Ms Adeleke, who already has sponsorship deals with KPMG, Allianz and Nike, appears to be 'creating longer-term partnerships with fewer brands', Ms O'Keeffe said, and is 'now fully a household name'.

rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Ciara Mageean of Ireland celebrates winning the women's 1500m final during day three of the 2024 European Athletics Championships at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Pic: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

'She probably has space for one if not two more, but I imagine she may wait until post-Olympics to do that because with commercial deals comes a lot of responsibility on the athletes as well.'

The 21-year-old Tallaght sensation has 'the propensity to earn major sums should she medal in the Olympics', Ms O'Keeffe said, adding 'sixfigure sums are not out of the question' for longer-term partnerships - of which there could be several.

rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Sharlene Mawdsley. Pic: Sportsfile

The sports PR specialist noted that Ms Mawdsley has a massive 145,000 followers on Instagram, 'From a brand perspective, her follower numbers are really strong and I think that will definitely attract a lot of brands to Sharlene. She and all of the athletes have fabulous energy about them. You would really love them representing your brand. They have great values; obviously they're highperformance athletes, but they have personality, and they aren't very stiff.'

Despite their high earning potential, Ms O'Keeffe doesn't expect the athletes to take on too many distractions before the Paris Olympics, starting next month.

'I imagine that the commercial opportunities will come in September - the back-to-school campaigns. I imagine we're going to see these athletes all over them.'

She noted the quick-fire nature of athletics events could suit the dwindling attention spans of smartphone-raised children.

rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Chris O’Donnell, Rhasidat Adeleke, Sharlene Mawdsley and Tom Barr celebrate winning a gold medal. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

'They don't have to wait 90 minutes for a match to be over or wait to watch highlights. They're seeing instant results. It's a nice form for kids to consume at the moment.'

Also on the top of the podium for Ireland's mixed relay team were Chris O'Donnell and Thomas Barr, while Phil Healy and Sophie Becker completed the women's team that took silver on Wednesday.

rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

Phil Healy during the women's 4x400m relay at the 2024 European Athletics Championships in Rome. Pic: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Ms Healy's older sister Joan, who had to retire from athletics prematurely as a result of injury, said the relay victories may have captured the public imagination due to our sporting heritage.

'GAA is such a strong sport, and rugby and soccer - they're all team events and I think people love that camaraderie,' she said. 'They love when people come together for one common purpose.'

She said the pressure is shared among the athletes in relay events, if not necessarily lessened.

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rhasidat adeleke, sharlene mawdsley and ciara mageean set to receive six-figure sponsorship deals

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