Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Olympic Blow over Beijing Funding Cuts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Olympic Blow over Beijing Funding Cuts

Article excerpt


BRITISH Olympic chiefs today urged the Government not to base future funding for our top athletes on one set of Games results.

The Government's spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, today published their findings into UK Sport's World Class Pe r formance Programme (WCPP), the funding system for our Olympic athletes.

The report calls for tough decisions after examining Britain's performance at last summer's Athens Olympics. It concludes that fringe sports, such as gymnastics and judo, which failed to win medals in Athens, should lose funding to ensure successful sports such as sailing and rowing receive more cash.

UK Sport responded by saying they were planning to target funding at sportsmen and women with a "realistic chance" of making the podium at Beijing in 2008.

But Simon Clegg, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said: "We must be careful not to use one set of results solely to determine the future funding strategy. The thing is to get the balance right between short-term, midterm and long-term success."

The WCPP handed out [pounds sterling] 83.5million between 2001-05 and that money played a big part in making last year's Olympics Britain's most successful Games for 20 years, with a total haul of 30 medals, said the NAO.

But performance in sports which received Lottery money was "mixed", with six Olympic disciplines - gymnastics, judo, triathlon, shooting, taekwondo and weightlifting - delivering no medals despite receiving [pounds sterling]12.4m in funding between them.

Four Paralympic sports - wheelchair rugby, sailing, boccia and wheelchair fencing - produced no medals despite [pounds sterling]1.3m funding from the programme.

Concentrating Lottery funding on sports with a track record of success could help Britain build on the victories of stars such as Kelly Holmes and avoid flops such as swimming's world 200m backstroke champion Katy Sexton, who finished seventh despite being hotly tipped for gold. …

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