Sunday, November 25, 2007

Track’s G-Girls: Young, Rich and Beautiful

Sanya Richards. Allyson Felix. These women are two of the world’s most famous female athletes, and they are today’s G-Girls of professional track and field.

What’s a G-Girl? She stands out in a crowd, she is attractive – even sexy – and her accomplishments speak for themselves. She’s a Glamour Girl and a standout in her world – and in the world of us ordinary folk.

Their enviable lives and show-stopping looks set the standard for what millions of women – and not a few men – think is attractive. Millions of dollars in shoe contracts and product endorsements ride on their every performance. They make it all look easy.

Salaries for female track runners has grown from amateur status in the 1970's to appearance fees up to $100,000 per race.

G-Girls aren’t new to track and field. Remember the 1980's? Flo Jo – with her one-legged running outfits, flowing hair and long, flashy fingernails – was the original G-Girl of track. She hit the track looking more glam than any woman athlete before her, but really captured the attention of the world with her speed, grace and charm.

She wasn’t all about nail polish – Flo Jo earned the title “World’s Fastest Women” when she struck gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She built on this success by becoming an eloquent spokeswoman, sharing her expertise and passion for fitness with the world.

Flo Jo also set the standard for glamazons in other sports – take a look at Serena Williams, Lisa Leslie or Gabby Reese. They’ve all got a little Flo Jo in their game.

Today, Sanya and Allyson have picked up the G-Girls torch. They are not the girls next door – they are the girls who stand out in a crowd.

Sanya, a 22-year-old Jamaican native, has movie star looks and a phat house. She’s dating New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. She’s dressed for success – she nearly lost a $20,000 diamond brooch given to her by a sponsor when it fell off during 200-meter rounds at World Championships. Ooops.

At age 21, Allyson’s svelte figure is the kind that inspires envy and lets her look like a supermodel. Her smile is electric and her fans feed off the energy she brings to the track. She’s been at the top for a long time, signing her first shoe contract at age 16 – a six-figure contract with Adidas.

Allyson hits the books at University of Southern California (which she’s never run for) and will graduate next month. And did I mention, she’s the reigning 200m World Champion.

For both women, life means a different city, a different country, every week. They are jetsetters, running and being known in Osaka, Rome, Stockholm, Oslo and London. Their job? Being cheered by fans in packed European stadiums.

They look and sound like they are living the glamorous life, but, like any legit G-Girl, their glamour doesn’t overshadow their innate talent.

These G-Girls are on track to worldwide fame – not just track and field fame – as they get ready for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But don’t get it wrong – they may find their names in the same sentences, and their bodies on the same medal podiums, but Sanya and Allyson are far from being BFF’s.

While their feud may not be as long-standing as Lindsay Lohan vs. Hilary Duff, it’s also not made-for-TV like Paris and Nicole. In interviews each express respect for the other’s skills, but they plainly admit that they aren’t friends, either.

The rivalry is brewing, and each could find themselves competing in anything from the 100 to 400 meters.

For starters, Allyson runs glamour events—the 100m, 200m, and 400m. Currently, the 200m is her strongest event. They could collide in the 400m, which Sanya has dominated.

Allyson is leading 1-0 in the 400 meter head-to-head meeting, Sanya’s signature event. But don’t let that fool you – Sanya fought illness throughout the entire season, so we never quite saw her best. Don’t forget, she broke a 22-year-old U.S. record in the 400 meters and already holds an Olympic gold medal.

Allyson and Sanya are bringing sexy back. The Glamour Girls of today are standing tall in an era when their counterparts in other glamour industries are drunkenly crashing their cars and forgetting their dignity – and their pants. Track and field’s new G-Girls are capturing the fans’ imaginations.

It’s exactly what the sport needs.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

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