London 2012 hopefuls given 10m cashback from Visa

BRITISH chiefs believe they will be able to unleash their strongest team ever at the London 2012 Games after receiving a significant cash injection from Visa.<br /><br />The credit card provider is believed to have paid around &pound;10m to be Team 2012&rsquo;s presentation partner, giving them promotional rights to more than 1,000 British athletes.<br /><br />That represents a hefty slice of the British Olympic Association&rsquo;s fundraising target of &pound;25m, and chief executive Andy Hunt believes the investment will translate into medals.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is a multi-million pound deal and it&rsquo;s a real step along the journey,&rdquo; said Hunt. &ldquo;We are hoping to raise up to &pound;25m which would make a significant difference to having the broadest and most competitive team at the London Games.&rdquo;<br /><br />A deal was held up by negotiations with agents of some of Britain&rsquo;s most high-profile athletes, such as 400m runner Christine Ohuruogu, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and swimmer Rebecca Adlington.<br /><br />It was feared the Visa deal may make it harder for the athletes to negotiate lucrative individual sponsorship contracts.<br /><br />But an agreement was eventually reached after Visa pledged to use a minimum of four athletes from at least three different sports in any promotional images.<br /><br />&ldquo;This has not been an easy road,&rdquo; said John Steele, the chief executive of funding body UK Sport.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is a completely new scheme but we have 100 per cent support from the sports and the athletes and that&rsquo;s an incredible place to get to in the timescale that we have had.&rdquo;<br /><br />Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organising committee, said: &ldquo;It will help bring to reality the dreams of future generations of athletes in competing at the very highest level.&rdquo;