By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - A shaving company has come to the rescue of a British athlete who put himself up for auction on eBay to secure sponsorship for the London Olympics only to find the winning bidder was a hoax.
Top sprinter James Ellington thought he had raised 32,550 pounds ($50,000) through the website after receiving 71 bids from 45 interested parties in an auction that closed in December.
"Going on eBay gave me amazing exposure but unfortunately the winning bidder wasn't genuine," the 26-year-old Londoner said in a statement Tuesday.
"Thankfully Will King, the CEO of King of Shaves, stepped in and 'shaved' my life.
"I couldn't be happier the deal has been sorted ... now I can focus on winning a medal for Great Britain."
Ellington, a 100 and 200 meters runner, competed in last year's world championships in Daegu, South Korea but lost out on Olympic funding after enduring four years of injury problems.
Desperate to be in the running for his home Games, he had set a target of raising 30,000 pounds to provide him with enough to train and pay for travel, accommodation, kit and nutritional support.
In return he had promised to wear the sponsor's branded kit at every possible opportunity until after the Games which start on July 27.
King, who had contacted Ellington directly through Twitter to ask him to get in touch should the eBay deal fall through, has been involved before in Olympic athlete sponsorship.
In the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics his firm backed Britain's Kristan Bromley and Shelley Rudman in the men's and women's skeleton respectively, with the latter sliding to silver.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)