Aussie Olympian Selling Tattoo Space on Her Ankle

As an Olympian and former NCAA champion, Victoria Mitchell is used to dreaming big. Her current goal might be the most ambitious of her career – to raise up to $30,000 through a crowdfunding site to finance her training for the 2016 Olympics.

Mitchell, who represented Australia in the steeplechase at the 2008 Olympics, is holding her campaign on StarStadium, a crowdfunding site exclusively for athletes trying to connect with supporters and sponsors. She’s trying to raise $10,000 in the next four weeks to help fund her training in 2014.

As with most crowdfunding campaigns, Mitchell’s offers a variety of rewards for differing levels of pledges. A contribution of $25 will get you a social media “thank you.” Double that, and Mitchell will send you a postcard from this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (assuming she makes the Australian team).

The fun stuff doesn’t really start until $100. For that amount, Mitchell will schedule a session with you to improve your running form. For $1000, you get the running form session as well as a talk/visit with your running group. And for $10,000, you get all of the above, and you get to pick Mitchell’s hair colour when she runs in the Commonwealth Games.

In her shoot-for-the-stars goal, Mitchell is asking for $30,000. This amount, she says, will help fund the next three years of her training as she tries to make the 2016 Olympic team. In exchange, Mitchell will get a permanent tattoo on her ankle of the logo or symbol of your choice.

Mitchell won the 2005 NCAA steeplechase title while at Butler University in Indiana, U.S. She set her steeple PB of 9:30:84 in 2006. At the 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics, she didn’t advance past her qualifying round. In 2009, she had surgery for plantar fasciitis, and has slowly returned to competitive shape. She does, however, stand out on the track, thanks in part to frequently dyeing and changing her hair, and would seem to be a good fit for the right sponsor.

One drawback to the ankle-tattoo idea is that current International Association of Athletics Federations rules prohibit displaying tattoos and other bodily alterations that are viewed as a form of advertising; if the rule is still in place during the 2016 Olympics, Mitchell would have to cover the tattoo.

The best-known similar campaign was staged by American Olympian Nick Symmonds, who raised $11,000 in an eBay auction for a temporary tattoo on his shoulder. Because of the IAAF rule, Symmonds wasn’t allowed to display the tattoo in races, but his vocal opposition to the rule probably brought more attention to the tattoo than if he had been allowed to show it in races.

Mitchell no doubt hopes that her campaign will have a strong finishing kick. StarStadium uses an all-or-nothing funding model; she gets to keep money pledged only if she reaches her $10,000 goal. As of this writing, she’s raised $895.

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