SBJ/October 21 - 27, 2002/Labor Agents

Runner Radcliffe looks for commercial mileage out of marathon mark

Octagon officials are close to announcing a deal for client Paula Radcliffe to endorse a drinking water brand and hope to expand the runner's existing relationship with Nike, said Clifford Bloxham, one of Radcliffe's agents.

Radcliffe, a native of Great Britain, shattered the world record for a woman running a marathon by almost 1 1/2 minutes in the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13. She completed the more than 26 miles in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 18 seconds — 89 seconds faster than the mark set by Kenya's Catherine Ndereba in the same race last year.

"She is very exceptional for a number of reasons," said Bloxham, Octagon vice president, who oversees that company's London athlete representation division of about nine employees. Her record-breaking performance in the Chicago race was only the second time she had competed in a marathon.

The first time, in April, she won the women's portion of the London Marathon in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 56 seconds, the fastest debut for a female marathon runner, Bloxham said.

Before this year, the 28-year-old Radcliffe concentrated on shorter distance races, primarily the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. She came in fourth in the 10,000 in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Nike signed her to a long-term deal around that time, Bloxham said.

Radcliffe has become a star in Great Britain, and British bookmakers have made her the prohibitive favorite to be athlete of the year there, Bloxham said.

Bloxham said Octagon signed her for commercial endeavors about a year ago. Her husband, Gary Lough, trains with her and serves as her racing manager. Lough and Radcliffe were expected to visit with Radcliffe's only sponsor — Nike — at its Beaverton, Ore., headquarters last week.

Bloxham said he hopes Nike will use Radcliffe more in advertising and said there has been talk of a shoe with her name on it.

Beth Hegde, Nike running communications manager, said, "At this time Nike has no plans to make a signature shoe for Paula Radcliffe. ... Paula is a great athlete, and we look forward to using all of our top athletes in future advertising."

IMS SIGNS KOSTON: IMS Sports, an agency specializing in the representation of extreme sports athletes, has signed professional skateboarder Eric Koston for representation in sponsorship, business and media opportunities.

Koston was awarded ESPN Action Sports and Music Awards in 2001 and 2002 for Skateboarder of the Year and has been honored with numerous Transworld Skateboarding's Reader's Choice awards, including Best Street Skater and Best Video Part.

"As far as skateboarders, Eric is the biggest name since Tony Hawk," said Paul Malina, manager of athletes and an agent at IMS. "Eric is to street skating what Tony is to vertical skating or halfpipe skating."

Circe Wallace Hetzel is Koston's primary agent. IMS is an extreme sports company founded in Melbourne, Australia, in 1997 that opened an office in California in 1999. In February, it consolidated its offices in San Clemente, Calif.

Koston previously did not have a sports agent.

OCTAGON SIGNS DANCEVIC: Octagon has signed 18-year-old Canadian tennis player Frank Dancevic to a representation contract that will begin Jan. 1.

Dancevic, who played for Canada in the Davis Cup earlier this year, has been under contract with SFX for about three years. Octagon will take over when the contract expires on the first of the year.

As of last week, Dancevic was ranked No. 453 in the world, but agent Michael Hernandez said, "That is an excellent ranking when players around 17 or 18 jump from the juniors to the pros."

Dancevic's looks are likely to make him marketable, particularly in Canada, Hernandez said. Octagon officials are looking to sign him to tennis-related deals and then look for other endorsements.

Contact Liz Mullen at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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