"MATERIAL AND RACES COST ME THOUSANDS OF EUROS PER YEAR"
Tony Boon, track cyclist – national champion sprint U19, dreams of becoming the Olympic sprint champion in Paris in 2024. Track sprint cycling is a highly tactical sport and can be decided within seconds. Material and race experience can make or break his career. So in other words, funding is crucial. How did Tony get this far? And how is he going to achieve his goal?
Tony has always been ambitious. Whenever he devotes himself to a goal, he wants to be the best. “When I was younger I didn’t think I was anything special,” tells Tony. “My father passed away when I was thirteen. So in that year I learnt that it isn’t whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you back get up. I want to be the proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Always. I want to be unique. A role model. That’s why I’m going for the highest achievable goal in track cycling.”
There are two things that can really make or break Tony’s career. The opportunity to race and good material in track cycling is key.
Opportunity to race
He needs the opportunity to race. “Track sprint cycling is a highly tactical sport. As a sprint can be decided within seconds, I don’t have much time for decisions. Wrong decisions get punished hard. Because one mistake can end my whole tournament. This brings a certain tension to every race. A tension that can’t be simulated in training. So the only way to learn to cope with the tension is during real races. But the problem is that these races are usually abroad. And that means all sorts of extra costs.”
The second thing is access to good material. Bikes for track cycling cost, without exaggerating, thousands of euros. And as a race can be decided in seconds, material makes all the difference. At last month’s national championships, I lost the Keirin Gold by 0,007 seconds. Mainly because I made a stupid decision in that race, but I can’t help but think about what would’ve happened if I had better material.”
“The races and material cost me thousands of euros per year”
The races and material cost Tony thousands of euros on a yearly basis. Before his father passed away that wasn’t a real issue, but now it’s too much for his mom and family. And his costs will increase as he is moving to the national training centre this year. The cyclist is grateful for the small private sponsors he has, but is still looking for a bigger sponsor. “I’m really struggling to get my funding together. I would like to plan ahead, to have a constant budget. More like a salary. But I’m glad I have this support. If I were on my own, I’m sure I wouldn’t be as far as I am now.”
Creativity is key in funding
According to Tony creativity is one of the key elements in gaining funding. “People always tell me I should ‘be my own brand’ and I think that is indeed the best way to get my funding. Track cycling isn’t as commercialised as for example road cycling. Because of that private sponsors won’t usually get the TV exposure they would get in other sports. So I’ll have to expand my social media reach to create a platform for my (potential) sponsors. It’s very much about selling yourself. I need to be somebody a company likes to connect its name to. And Sponsoring has to be rewarding, so I have to make it rewarding. How? For example by organizing a clinic for my biggest contributors. It will be like they bought a ticket for this experience.”