Olympic Games glory failed to help Sally Pearson keep her sponsors and as the hurdler revealed her gold medal could not attract new deals, Canberra runner Melissa Breen declared: ''What hope do the rest of us have?''
Breen and Pearson will go head-to-head in the 100-metre and 200m marquee events at the Sydney Track Classic on March 9.
Breen is a sprinter on the rise and made her Olympic debut in London last year.
Pearson is the golden girl of Australian athletics, winning silver in the 100m hurdles in Beijing in 2008 and claiming gold in London.
But as swimming legend Dawn Fraser was unveiled as the top female athlete of the past 100 years and Canberra hosted a women in sport conference on Wednesday, Pearson's fight to keep sponsors showed women still struggle to gain ongoing recognition.
Pearson announced on Twitter that she had lost sponsors.
Breen has been sponsored by Asics since 2008, sunglasses company Oakley, and had grants from the ACT government leading into the Games.
At just 22 years old, Breen was the first female to race in the Olympic 100m event since the 2000 Games in Sydney.
But Breen said it was tough to make a name for yourself in athletics.
''For that to happen to Sally, what hope do the rest of us have?'' she said.
''It's hard to get a cash deal done, but it's OK because I don't run for money.
''Running for my country is to be a proud Australian … just because you've got money doesn't mean you'll run fast.''
Breen is at the start of a busy national racing schedule as she continues her rise through the ranks.
Her goal is an A-qualifying time for the world championships in Moscow later this year and she hopes taking on tough competition will help her run faster.
Breen has never beaten Pearson. The Canberra runner came within 0.01 seconds of toppling the Olympic champion in 2010, but insists her No.1 goal is running fast - not beating Pearson.
''To run against an Olympic champ every week is really exciting … it will be a great battle hopefully,'' Breen said.
''She's one of the best starters in the world, so if I can match her there and hang on in the middle part of the race, then who knows what can happen.
''It's a great chance to see how I run under pressure. I feel like I'm ready to do something very fast.''