Paralympian athletes are now commanding 'like-for-like fees' with able-bodied Olympians on the professional speaking circuit, with commentators regarding this development as a “major sea change.”
JJ Jackson, director of speakers bureau Performing Artistes, said: “Some Team GB Paralympians are now commanding £10k per engagement for a 30-minute speech. After previous Olympics and Paralympics, there would be a half-dozen Olympians who would come to the fore, but only one Paralympian - recently Tanni Grey-Thompson. This time around, however, there has been half a dozen Paralympians, too, that conferences are interested in.”
Jackson added that since the London Paralympic Games, which attracted a global audience of one billion viewers: “The corporate world has shown an interest in Paralympians like never before. In 20 years in the business, this is completely new to me.”
Among the new team of Paralympian speaker celebrities are David Weir, who won four gold medals in track and field, Karen Darke, who won a silver medal in cycling, and Joe Townsend, the former Royal Marine Commando who lost both legs in Afghanistan who zip-wired into the Olympic stadium carrying the Paralympics torch during the Opening Ceremony.
Jackson added: “It has obviously benefited them that the Paralympics were in London, and that the team did so well. After previous games, Olympians would do well for three to six months after the games finished, but that has changed. One client booking for next summer specifically wanted an Olympian and a Paralympian.”
Another change is that Paralympian athletes are learning to become professional speakers, with groups wanting to hear their messages, rather than just being satisfied with handshakes and photos of the athletes with medals.
“There’s an additional interest in Paralympians because people can somewhat relate to their struggle. Usain Bolt cannot say that we are like him, because we aren’t. That might be true, too, for someone who has lost a limb in a war, but people can still relate to their journey and struggle. If these Paralympians put the same effort into honing their speaking skills as they do for their training, a bright future lies ahead," Jackson said.
“A speaker such as Jonnie Peacock is also gaining interest. I hear people talking about his rivalry with fellow ‘Bladerunner’ Oscar Pistorius, not about his disability. This certainly is a sea change, one I think will be permanent.”
Pictured: Karen Darke