Eleven British sports bodies call for funding changes
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[June 29, 2017]
LONDON (Reuters) - The national
governing bodies of 11 Olympic and Paralympic sports issued a joint
statement on Thursday calling for Britain to abandon a "two-class
system" of funding fixated on medal success.
The sports, which include archery, badminton, fencing and
weightlifting, have been left without National Lottery and
government funding ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"We've been thrown under a bus," Adrian Christy, the Badminton
England chief executive whose sport came home from last year's Rio
de Janeiro Olympics with a bronze medal, told the BBC.
The "Every Sport Matters" joint manifesto said the existing approach
had reaped plenty of medals but disenfranchised elite athletes with
a system that "runs counter to Olympic ideals".
"Currently, athletes in sports deprived of Lottery funding will find
it almost impossible to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and
Paralympics," it added.
"Even athletes with recognized medal potential created by Lottery
funding have now been completely abandoned by the system."
UK Sport's focus on medal potential has produced record returns,
with Britain second in the Rio Olympic standings with 27 gold medals
and 67 in total. In 1996, Britain was 36th in the medals table with
just one gold among 15 medals.
However there has also been criticism of the win-at-all-cost
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"There is too much of a culture of medal winners and
non-medal winners which is unhealthy and doesn’t speak well for us
as a sporting society," UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner told
reporters in May.
Thursday's manifesto urged Katherine Grainger, the five times
Olympic rowing medalist who takes over as chair of UK Sport next
week, to instigate a thorough review.
"We urge UK Sport to recognize that medal targets alone should not
be the sole criteria for its funding," it said.
Grainger acknowledged the call but indicated there could be no quick
"I will of course listen to these sports’ concerns, and UK Sport
will go out to consultation again on its investment strategy for the
2024 cycle," she said in a UK Sport statement.
"But as things currently stand, as ever with finite investment, we
simply cannot reach the sports who are furthest away from medal
"UK Sport runs a lean operation ... so to take the approach these
sports are suggesting would mean taking away funding or expertise
from athletes with greater chances of medal success."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Alison Williams)
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