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Interview with Rachel Klamer, Professional Triathlete

Rachel Klamer, a two-time Olympian in Triathlon, won her first gold medal in the World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi this season. I had the chance to interview Rachel Klamer about her career and the importance of individual sponsorship in triathlon.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Rachel Klamer

Rachel Klamer


by Meryem Aksoy

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When it comes to professional sports, the athlete must dedicate his or her life to reach the highest level and to be able to stay there. While it is a difficult process for an athlete competing in a single branch, it must be much more difficult for a triathlete to achieve success. In triathlon, triathletes have to compete in three different sports at the highest level, this situation reduces the training time and also increases the expenses due to the equipment required for each branch. In order to understand the triathlon and its financial structure better, I talked with Rachel Klamer about her career and the importance of individual sponsorship in triathlon.

Rachel, although you have started your career at a relatively late age, what was the secret of being successful in such a short time?

I grew up swimming at the local swim squad and picked up running when I got older. My parents would regularly participate in races, where I would watch and later join. I seemed to have more talent for running than swimming, so joined an athletics club at a later stage. Here I got scouted by a triathlete who told me about a ‘triathlete scouting day’. Soon after this day, I received my very first road bike and the big adventure started.

Rachel Klamer

Rachel Klamer 2nd Place Super League Malta - Image copyright Super League

Could you tell us about your triathlon career and your achievements?

My first triathlon race was one week before the Junior European Championships. I managed to qualify for this race as you only had to swim and run at the qualifying event. I would lie if I said I enjoyed my first race, but I’m quite happy I gave it another try.

One year after I started racing, I ended up 3rd at the Junior World Championships and won my first Olympic distance European Cup.

After this, I struggled with some injuries for a couple of years, but kept going and never gave up. In 2015 I won a silver medal at the first European Games in Baku, followed by my first World Triathlon Series podium in Hamburg 2016.

My biggest achievements so far: Olympics 2012/2016 (10th) & gold medal in the World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi 2018.

What are your goals?

Getting the best out of myself, in both my triathlon career and daily life. I want to be one of the best triathletes in the world.

Rachel Klamer

Rachel Klamer with Richard Murray

What are the main expenses of a triathlete throughout the year? How could triathletes finance this expenses? What is the permanent solution?

For most athletes the main expenses are traveling, coaching & equipment. I’m very happy to get most of my equipment through sponsors and my national federation.

To finance these expenses we use our sponsor and prize money. The combination of funding, sponsorship and prize money is the permanent solution.

What is the best way to attract sponsors' attention?

Winning! If you’re winning races, then sponsors will be interested. Also, it’s important to have a strong and active social media profile as it’s a great way to give your sponsors exposure. In addition to this, I think once you get to the elite level, it’s important to have a good agent. Mine, Adam Acworth, is amazing, he represents most of the top triathletes and is super well connected and knows all the brands. He’s helped me a lot.

Rachel Klamer

Rachel Klamer

What are the expectations of sponsors from triathletes?

Sponsors expect you to promote their brand, give them exposure and essentially directly or indirectly create new sales opportunities for them. Ultimately, we are walking, talking advertising boards for them.

How did your life change after your first sponsorship agreement?

To be honest it didn’t really. My first few sponsors were just product sponsorship and then came a few small financial agreements. What this did allow me to do was focus more on training and really commit to being a world-class triathlete.

Rachel Klamer

Rachel Klamer Racing Super League Mallorca - Image copyright Super League Triathlon

Could you tell us about your sponsors? What are the brands that you collaborate with?

Red Bull a not only an energy drink sponsor, but also support me to get better in triathlon

Havoline(Chevron), they help me finance all my travel, training, coaching and allow me to keep going. I’m very lucky to be supported by them.

Orca a equipment, swimwear/apparel. I personally feel they produce the world’s leading wetsuits and swim equipment. I love working with them.

NOC NSF/ NTB a Olympic committee/federation

361 running shoes/apparel - I’ve always had problems finding the right trainers but when I started working with 361, I loved them!

Shimano/Koga/Pioneer/Polar a bike related sponsors – they provide me with all my bikes, componence etc. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to compete at the highest level.

How do you make your sponsors' brands visible throughout the season? How many different platforms do you represent your sponsors?

Yes absolutely. This is very important. There are a number of platforms to give sponsors exposure. Firstly you’re branding on your race suits, branding and products in TV, media, photography, advertising, and other commercial programmes and them of course over social media and on my website.

Rachel Klamer

Rachel Klamer Racing Super League Mallorca - Image copyright Super League Triathlon

What are your expectations from your sponsors?

I have a number of expectations from my sponsors. I do expect them to be providing me with the world’s best equipment to allow me to train and perform to my maximum. I do also expect them to use me for their marketing and promotional programmes. I feel it’s really important to work together and create a great partnership. I’m very lucky with this as all my partners produce the world’s leading equipment and we do have a lot of fun marketing their products through me.

What are you paying attention to when a new brand contacted you about sponsorship?

Really two things. 1. Are we a good fit, do we align with each other's goals and objectives and 2. What can I offer them? Can I create value for them, help with their goals and objectives, basically have a great positive impact on what they are trying to do.

What are the main factors that affect the beginning and continuity of successful sponsorship collaboration?

Working together, talking often and coming up with new and different activation ideas to stand you and your sponsors out from the crowds.

If you had a chance to speak on behalf of all professional triathletes at a meeting with brands, what would you say them for convincing these brands to sponsor triathletes?

I’d say the WTS (World Triathlon Series) has 3 million people who attend the 8 races annually, 380 million plus watch it in 149 countries and the average income of a triathlon fan is $125,000 annually (according to statistics). It’s a sport that many global sponsors haven’t identified yet as an opportunity and as a result, there is an opportunity for a few big sponsors to come into the sport, dominate for relatively little money and create huge opportunities for themselves.

Rachel Klamer

Rachel Klamer Racing Super League Mallorca - Image copyright Super League Triathlon

Do you have any advice for triathletes who want to pursue a professional career?

It’s always important to have something to fall back on if triathlon doesn’t end up working out. I think that only a small percentage of triathletes make enough money to be financially stable. That’s why I would advice young athletes to study before becoming a professional.

What do you think about social media? How did it affect the popularity of triathlon?

Triathlon and social media have certainly one thing in common: it is both relatively new. It’s important for triathletes to use social media to support their sponsors and be a good role model in sports.

How can our readers follow you?

Please follow me on Instagram @rachelklamer, that is where I’m most active or Facebook @rachelklamertriathlete

What is next for you?

Holiday, chocolate, hiking, less social media and sleeping whenever I feel. Ok, on the more serious note: planning next season, filing & visiting my sponsors.

Thank you Rachel for this enjoyable interview.

For more information, please visit the website of Rachel Klamer