Triathlon is a sport praised and revered by many for its pursuit of equality, but it seems men and women still might not be playing with an equal deck in all areas.
Former IRONMAN world champion Mirinda Carfrae, working as an analyst during the broadcasts of the PTO Tour US Open races last weekend, talked during Saturday’s pro women showdown about what she says is a disparity in sponsorship dollars.
Asked by fellow analyst Jack Kelly why women’s time trial positions weren’t being taken to the extreme in a similar way to the men, Carfrae claimed that because of the financial implications of bike testing and innovation, women were on the back foot.
Carfrae claimed the difference in sponsorship money between men and women means male pros have the finances to chase the extra few percentage improvements which come from altering their bike position.
“Just more money in sponsorship for the men”
“I think, there’s equal prize money in the women’s field here, obviously with the PTO and the WTCS prize money is equal, but there’s just more money in sponsorship for men. Magnus [Ditlev] for example would have some massive deals, some big bike contracts and that just allows you to have more money to spend on things like that [bike fairings].
“That being said though, people like Magnus or other athletes would invest that money, or take a loan out almost, I know some athletes who take all the money they have and invest it in bike tech. I don’t think the women’s racing is quite there yet, I think we will see it in years to come as popularity of the sport grows and sponsors recognise how amazing these women are and how much they bring to the sport.”
Carfrae on triathlon sponsorship deals
Whilst Carfrae acknowledges that triathlon is in many ways a long way ahead of other sports when it comes to equal pay, she claims the difference in sponsorship contracts is very real.
“Obviously these women are very good and the contracts in this sport compared to other sports are good, the equality is very good, but a European male, even compared to an American male, their contracts are just way bigger.
“The best thing about triathlon is since its inception there has always been equal prize money, and that goes back 20-30 years, which is such a great step forward compared to other sports. But in the sponsorship world, you would be very surprised about the big contracts for the European men, maybe even the American and Australian men, where there is just a lot more money available.”