Commonwealth gold medal-winning weightlifter Sathish Kumar Sivalingam has set a new national record but off the sporting platform by becoming a brand ambassador for i steel TMT bars.
Sivalingam is the first Indian weightlifter to become a brand ambassador for a product/service.
But experts say that there are several challenges for weightlifters to continue getting brand ambassador contracts.
"It is nice to know that I am the first brand ambassador for a product from the weightlifting sport," Sivalingam told the media in Chennai.
G.Gautam Reddy, CEO of Viki Industries that owns the i steel brand, said: "Sivalingam represents the core attributes of i steel brand strength and flexibility."
Speaking about the products that champion weightlifters can promote, Harish Bijoor, Brand Expert told IANS: "The general imagery of a weightlifter and also that of a wrestler is that he is strong and powerful. So steel is one product for a weightlifter to promote."
Similarly, cement is another category that a weightlifter can promote. Ambuja Cements had used wrestler Great Khali as its brand ambassador, Bijoor said.
Agreeing that the face recall of weightlifters is far less than cricketers -- their pictures appear in media only when they win an international medal -- Bijoor said brands that are very regional in nature can go for such sporting personalities.
"It is here the role of manager for sportspersons assumes importance. The manager has to think of the ways and means of promoting the brand he represents," Bijoor said.
Does that mean a weightlifter like Sivalingam has to be seen to espouse a social cause and participate in such events?
While the answer is yes R. Abishek, a weightlifter and a friend of Sivalingam told IANS: "It is not easy for Sivalingam to do that. He will have to attend the coaching camp at Patiala. The three training sessions per day will be very exhausting. He can get free time only on Sunday."
A software engineer turned entrepreneur, Abishek is the Dumbbell brand sportswear ambassador.
According to Abishek, during his active sporting life, a weightlifter will not have time for anything else.
"A weightlifter's sporting life span will be only up to 33 years. He can at the most represent the nation in three Olympics. He will be in limelight only when he wins medals. Once he retires from his sport then he loses the celebrity status," Abishek said.
Sivalingam was in Bengaluru recently and was able to shoot for the i steel TV commercials, Abishek said.
The next target for Sivalingam, the winner of two consecutive CWG gold medals, is the 2020 Olympics where he has some medal chances.
"I don't think he will have time for anything else before that," Abishek said.