UK Sport splashes cash in bid for success in Rio
LONDON (AFP) –
British athletes will benefit from a £347million ($563 million) funding boost as UK Sport chiefs aim to dominate the 2016 Rio Olympics after this year’s successful London Games.
The record cash injection is an 11 percent increase on the funds made available for London 2012 and will be distributed over the next four years.
Overall, 18 sports have been given more money than before the last Games, while five have had their budget cut by UK Sport, who plan for Britain to be even more successful in Rio than in London, where the teams won 65 medals in the Olympics and 120 in the Paralympics.
Cycling, rowing, boxing, athletics and gymnastics are among those sports given increases.
The biggest increase of 44 percent goes to boxing, raising the sport’s funding to £13.8million.
Cycling is up to £30.6million from £26.3million, athletics has a £1.7million increase to £26.8million, rowing is up from £27.3million to £32.6million, and gymnastics up from £10.8million to £14.5million.
It is a different story for those sports that did not meet their performance targets in London including swimming, whose funding is cut to £21.4million from £25.1million, volleyball (down to £400,000 from £3.5million), plus basketball, handball, wrestling and table tennis, which miss out on funding altogether.
Investment in Paralympic sport also rises dramatically, up 43 percent on London 2012.
UK Sport insisted the distribution of money was based on whether sports met their medal target in London and chief executive Liz Nicholl said: “We want to be the first nation in recent history to be more successful in the Olympics and Paralympics post-hosting.
“Today will be good news for some and it will be painful for others who haven’t met the criteria.
“They are very disappointed but I think some of these sports have to improve their base, their competition structure, and drive up competition before they can really compete for medals at a world level.”
UK Athletics Performance Director, Neil Black, added: “We’re very pleased to receive the increased levels of support across both Olympic and Paralympic performance programmes.
“The investment in athletics reflects the progress made over the last four years and demonstrates confidence in our plans for the next Games cycle.”
Meanwhile, British Swimming vowed to step up its performance in response to the funding cuts after winning just three medals at London 2012.
David Sparkes, British Swimming CEO, said: “While disappointed with the award for swimming, we recognise we need to rebuild confidence that we can deliver medals at Olympic level consistently before we can demand more investment.”
There was a less sympathetic response from some of the athletes affected by the cuts.
Handball player Chris McDermott reacted with dismay, writing on his twitter account “I’m devastated. Absolutely gutted. Gave everything for 7 years now we’ve been chopped.”
Volleyball player Maria Bertelli tweeted: “UK Sport, London2012, Seb Coe legacy? Please explain? Gave everything and more because I believed your promises £false.”