Former downhill racer and UCI official Martin Whiteley takes a look at future of mountain biking. Mountain Biking UK goes behind the scenes at Whiteley's 23 Degrees Sports Management company, a successful business venture that has represented athletes like reigning World Cup champion and former World Champion downhiller Greg Minnaar. For 2009, 23 Degrees is backing the Trek World Cup team. 23 Degrees' previous teams, which have won World Cup titles, include Global Racing and the more recent Team G Cross Honda.
Mountain Biking UK: What is 23 Degrees Sports Management?
Martin Whiteley: We're a secretariat for the riders. We handle sponsorship contracts, special invites to promotional races and events, help with their interviews and look after websites, as well as working on their media profile in many national markets. I speak four languages so that helps with contacts overseas. We also advise on other issues like race season strategies, off-bike professionalism and so on.
MBUK: What's with the number 23?
MW: That could take up the entire interview, but if anyone's seen the movie Number 23 with Jim Carrey, it's kind of like that but with a little less mania. It's a number that's been ever present in my life, maybe through coincidence or whatever - but it became my race number, then a nickname. It seemed logical to name my company after the fact that the world does actually spin on an axis of 23 degrees. There's a lot more to it, but that's for another day.
MBUK: Why sports management?
MW: I was always a lot better at admin than I was at racing downhill, and I found that most top-level downhill racers are way better at racing than handling admin! It looked the perfect way for me to continue working in a sport I live for, and to help riders I really respect.
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