Four Teesside businesses have teamed together to back local athletics star Chris Tomlinson as he bids to reach his fourth successive Olympics this summer just months after considering quitting the sport.
Tees Business clients WattFitness, Midas and Cornerstone Business Solutions have joined forces with Inlec to sponsor the long jump stalwart in preparations that he hopes will culminate in the Olympic final in Rio in August.
Middlesbrough-born Tomlinson considered ending his distinguished long jump career after a bout of glandular fever at the height of last year’s athletics season resulted in him losing all of his funding from UK Athletics and former sponsors Nike.
The former British record holder said: “This sponsorship’s not making me rich. It simply allows me to focus on training and preparing for what will hopefully be my fourth and final Olympic Games.
“Losing all my funding was a massive personal blow. Did I consider my future? Definitely. The truth is that if I didn’t live in an amazing place like Teesside where people watch each other’s backs then I probably wouldn’t still be in sport now.
“But these four companies are showing that they still believe in me and that is a nice feeling. When people step forward like that and say ‘We still feel you’ve got something to give’, that’s quite inspirational.”
Now Tomlinson, 34, has his eyes on Rio as he aims to end his career with a bang and an Olympic medal as he takes on Olympic, World and European champion Rutherford, who also broke the Teessider’s British long jump record last year.
“I think most people probably think it would be great if I can reach another Olympics but I’m looking to do a little bit more than just making up the numbers in Rio,” he added.
“I need to get myself to 99% of my best, do it on the day and I know I’m going to be there or thereabouts. Deep down, I know I can do it.”
The sponsorship from the Teesside companies will pay for training camps and medical support, whilst allowing Tomlinson to wind down other activities and focus purely on his preparation for the Olympics.
Tomlinson’s sponsors are WattFitness, the Teesside-based gym run by the former wife of Duncan Bannatyne, Joanne McCue, fast-growing Middlesbrough cladding company Midas, award-winning Stockton IT firm Cornerstone and Inlec, a test equipment hire business based in Stokesley.
The sponsorship deals were arranged by former Middlesbrough FC communications head Dave Allan of Teesside firm DNA PR & Publicity.
Midas managing director Martin Gilbey said: “It would be fantastic for Teesside if we could help Chris reach a fourth Olympics, while it would be the cherry on the cake if he got a medal. We’re just proud to support an elite athlete who also happens to be a gentleman and a genuine Teesside lad.”
Joanne McCue of WattFitness added: “As a training and fitness facility, we appreciate just how much hard work goes into achieving your goals at an elite level. To produce champions that hard work needs support and we’re just so proud to give that to Chris.”
Rolf McCullagh of Inlec said: “We were shocked to learn that Chris had lost all of his athletics funding. As a proud and long-established local business, we were delighted to step in and help out such a well-known and popular local sportsman.”
Tomlinson, who trains regularly at Middlesbrough Sports Village, took part in his first Olympics in Athens in 2004 before going on to represent Great Britain in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
• Pictured (above): Chris Petty (Cornerstone), Rolf McCullagh (Inlec) and Martin Gilbey (Midas) look on as Teesside long jumper Chris Tomlinson gets in some practice for his bid to reach a fourth successive Olympics.