British Swimming to bounce back

  • Last Updated: December 18 2012, 17:45 GMT

British Swimming has vowed to step up its performance in response to a cut in Swimming funding announced by UK Sport.

Michael Jamieson was one of just two swimming medallists
Michael Jamieson was one of just two swimming medallists

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Swimming was the major casualty in today's funding announcement for the four years leading up to Rio 2016 after it returned just three medals at London 2012.

There was good news for athletics, cycling, rowing, boxing and gymnastics in the record pot of £347million but reductions for swimming and volleyball, while backing for basketball and handball was cut altogether.

With Rebecca Adlington picking up two bronze medals and Michael Jamieson one silver, bosses at British Swimming had braced themselves for a drop in funding.

David Sparkes, British Swimming CEO, said: "Overall we are satisfied with the outcome. 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.

"We had a disappointing Olympics in swimming and we now need to focus our energies on driving the cultural change needed moving forward and this will be built around a no compromise approach underpinned by performance management and strong effective leadership.

"Everyone involved in swimming remains committed to working hard towards achieving success in Rio and beyond."

Despite the loss in funding for swimming, British Swimming saw an increase in funding for four other aquatic sports - disability swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and women's water polo.

"We are delighted to see increased investment in disability swimming and diving which is richly deserved although there remains still much to do in these areas before Rio," said Sparkes.

"The funding of women's water polo and synchronised swimming is welcomed as clearly UK Sport recognises the tremendous progress these two sports have made in the last four-to-five years."

Team GB did better on the athletics track than expected with the highlights including gold medal performances from Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford and this has been reflected in their funding.

UKA Performance Director, Neil Black, said of today's announcement: "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."

UKA Paralympic head coach, Paula Dunn, added: "Funding from UK Sport and the National Lottery was an integral part of our success in London this summer and we are absolutely delighted to be receiving an increased investment of 59% into the Paralympic programme."

Di Ellis, Chair of British Rowing, said: "The GB Rowing Team would not be where it is today without the backing and support we have received from UK Sport and the National Lottery."

There was also a welcome from sailing, with RYA Performance Director John Derbyshire saying of the increase from £22,942,700 for London: "Sailing's Olympic award of £24,515,072, as announced by UK Sport today, is broadly welcomed and will enable us to start implementing our plans for the Rio cycle, off the back of having successfully delivered another five medals at the Olympic Games this summer to remain one of Great Britain's most consistently high-performing Olympic sports.

"We're grateful to UK Sport for their continued confidence in the RYA's World Class Programme, and look forward to the clarity and opportunity that these awards now provide us with in our planning for Rio 2016 and 2020."

But there were also losers in the funding announcement, with handball suffering a total cut.

Handball player Chris McDermott reacted with dismay, writing on his twitter account @ChristopherMcD-: "I'm devastated. Absolutely gutted. Gave everything for 7 years now we've been chopped."

Volleyball player Maria Bertelli reacted with anger, tweeting: "@uk-sport @london2012 @sebcoe legacy? Please explain? Gave everything & more because I believed your promises #false."

British Basketball described the decision to cut its funding totally ahead of Rio as "devastating" and a "waste" of previous investment.

Performance chairman, Roger Moreland, said: "We knew the criteria that UK Sport were applying for Rio, but having been funded to the tune of £8.5m in the lead up to the London Olympics because of the sport's medal potential for the future, this is a devastating decision and is a waste of that investment.

"Over the last five years, the GB teams have done the equivalent of going from League Two in football to the Premier League. They have been competing with the very best countries in the world. It doesn't seem much of a legacy from 2012 to dash the hopes and aspirations of a sport whose heartland is founded in Britain's inner cities."

British Cycling's Chief Executive Ian Drake has welcomed a £37m award.

He said: "At British Cycling, we take seriously the responsibility to deliver good value which comes with lottery funding. We believe that winning medals is not an end in itself but a means to growing the sport as whole.

"Today's announcement from UK Sport is recognition of the success of our riders, our coaches and the work we put into identifying new talent."

British Gymnastics is celebrating a 34% boost in funding after London saw Great Britain take a landmark men's team bronze, Louis Smith and Max Whitlock taking pommel horse silver and bronze, and Beth Tweddle's asymmetric bars bronze after being set a target of one to two medals at this year's Olympic Games.

With funding of £14.5m for the next Olympic cycle Tim Jones, British Gymnastics Head of Performance Sport, said: "This is fantastic news for our sport, and after the incredible success of the last four years, we are delighted to know that UK Sport has fully backed our plans for the future.

"This award will allow us to build on the platform that London provided to British Gymnastics, and give our athletes and coaches the confidence to know they will be fully supported in the lead into 2016."

UK Sport's funding announcement has been welcomed by the Sport and Recreation Alliance but its chief executive Tim Lamb has highlighted what he sees as a gap in the government's overall sport strategy.

Commenting on UK Sport's announcement today and that yesterday of Sport England - which funds grass roots sport - Lamb said: "These welcome funding awards make provision for the period up to the 2020 Olympics because the money invested in community sport today will produce the Olympic and Paralympic teams of 2020. But looking past that, we need to make sure that we have a robust plan in place to make sure that sport plays a fuller part in the school curriculum and in pupils' everyday lives.

"There's a glaring gap in terms of where school sport planning and investment should be currently. That's going to affect Team GB in future but more importantly it risks having a huge effect on the long term health and wellbeing of the whole nation."

The British Paralympic Association (BPA) welcomed an overall increase in funding of 43%.

A statement from the BPA read: "The BPA has always maintained that, for the Paralympic movement in the UK, London should be a springboard onto greater things.

"UK Sport's increased level of investment into Paralympic sport as a whole reflects that and we are delighted that the strong performance of the ParalympicsGB team in London has acted as the catalyst."

The British Equestrian Federation has been awarded £17,929,600 for Olympic equestrian sport and £3,782,800 for Paralympic equestrian sport after celebrating success in the four Olympic and Paralympic disciplines of showjumping, dressage, para-equestrian dressage and eventing.

BEF chief executive Andrew Finding said: "2012 has been a very good year for equestrian sport and we are thrilled with this award.

"Success comes with outstanding team work and I want to pay tribute to a Government that's put so much faith in sport, to UK Sport, the National Lottery players, British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping, the owners of the horses, Performance Director Will Connell, the support staffs and coaches and of course the athletes who deliver the results."

The British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA) has been awarded a 44% increase in funding after landing three gold medals, one silver and a bronze in London.

The BABA will receive £13.8m compared to the £9.5m and chairman Derek Mapp said: "This is a well deserved reward for the hard work of the boxers, coaches and everyone associated with the Olympic boxing programme who have delivered a period of sustained success over the last three years.

"The decision by UK Sport to increase the funding for boxing is a reflection of their confidence in the fantastic work of (performance director) Rob McCracken and his team in delivering medals at major championships and putting in place a system to deliver long-lasting success."

McCracken added: "This is good news for the Olympic programme and good news for the sport."

The decision to cut funding to the volleyball programmes means there is now no support in place for either the men's or women's indoor teams.

The women's indoor team saw their UK Sport funding removed in 2010, and their male counterparts followed suit today in the wake of their disappointing showing at London 2012.

The only bright spot was the retention of funding for women's beach volleyball, which will see the full £400,000 - down from £3.5m, an 88% reduction - earmarked for volleyball invested in its programme for 2016, with their male equivalents again frozen out.

Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin showed promise in winning one of their pool stage games in this summer's beach volleyball tournament at Horse Guards Parade, as the sport enjoyed a spike in popularity at the central London venue.

Dampney wrote on her Twitter account: "So happy that UK Sport have invested in our road to Rio 2016!! Lets get this show on the road.... #beachvolleyball #boom Xxx"

Team-mate Mullin tweeted before the announcement was made: "Big decisions coming out today! I hope the minority team sports aren't halted in their development"

Anthony Joshua, who won a super-heavyweight boxing gold for Great Britain in London, highlighted the importance of the UK Sport funding.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "I was on the Olympic team for 17 months before the Games, and the improvements I made and the championships I was going to and the experience I was getting, all through the help of the funding, brought me on leaps and bounds and helped me progress to win my gold medal."

Without it, Joshua is convinced he would not have been an Olympic champion.

"I wouldn't have," he said. "I may have done well but I don't think I would have gone on to achieve what I achieved."

Of the sport's increase in funding for 2016, Joshua said: "We're going to see the changes. There's going to be a lot more competition in the UK. Going to Rio is going to be an amazing time."

Joshua expressed sympathy for the sports which had lost out today.

"I think it's a shame because I'm talking about how much of an impact the funding makes," he said. "But I believe if the athletes want to make a change that should be motivation for these guys, to go out and use the facilities they've got now and make the most of it."

With two golds, one silver and one bronze making London the best ever Games for GB Canoeing the sport's governing body has seen an increase of 18% in funding to £19.1m.

GB performance director, John Anderson MBE, said: "We are delighted that our excellent performance at London 2012 has been recognised by UK Sport in their funding announcement today.

"We exceeded our target of three medals, including one gold, proving that we are a sport that can deliver when it counts.

"We are also pleased to have been awarded £2.3m to support our excellent Paracanoe programme as the sport prepares to make its Paralympic debut in Rio in 2016."

Taekwondo has seen its UK Sport backing go up from £4.8m to £6.9m after two medals reached a target of one to three, coming a day after Sport England showed its faith in the sport at grass roots level.

Gary Hall, GB Taekwondo performance director, said: "Sport England's investment, which equates to an approximate 300% increase in funding for our Talent Development (Excel) programme, will enable us to continue to identify and develop talented young athletes at cadet and junior level with a view to progressing them to the elite performance programme.

"In addition, we will be able to give greater energy to educating and training British taekwondo coaches across the country and with them, establish a network of talent clubs that will strengthen the Talent Pathway for talented young athletes, ensuring that they can reach their full potential, for club and for Great Britain.

"We will also continue to benefit from UK Sport's valued investment in the World Class Performance programme for our elite athletes and today's announcement from them highlights a 42% increase in performance funding for taekwondo."

British Swimming has vowed to back the men's water polo team, whose funding has been cut by UK Sport, through to the European Championships qualifying matches which will be played in April 2013.

British Swimming chief executive Sparkes said: "Clearly there will be disappointment that men's water polo missed out but we will now work hard with the vibrant British water polo community to see what we can do to build an effective and appropriate programme for them.

"We will support the men's team for the European qualifiers to allow them to continue their international programme at the beginning of next year."

The women's team, boosted by today's funding announcement, will play their first games over the same weekend in Israel.

Archery was one sport to see a cut from £4.4m to £3.1m after failing to win any medals in London.

A spokesman for Archery GB said: "Obviously it is disappointing to lose money, it always is. Everyone was very happy with a £2million grant from Sport England yesterday and this has brought us back down to earth with a bit of bang.

"The Olympic performance was a little short of expectation but outside of that archery has been in very good shape in competition.

"Archery GB is now taking stock of the award and will go forward from there. The challenge now is to go forward and deliver in four years' time."

Handball player Holly Lam-Moores expressed her disappointment, tweeting: "Devastated, we inspired a generation this summer but now unable to capitalise on that....a sad, sad day for most GB team sports."

GB Volleyball performance director Kenny Barton described himself as "numb" but he hopes to continue the progress made despite missing out on funding, except for women's beach volleyball which gets £400,000.

But for the other three teams - men's and women's indoor and men's beach - to continue they will need to find alternative funding.

Barton said: "We would like to prove we can continue. We are a little way down the path now and can see the top - we need to keep going. We have done a phenomenal job and we want to continue that.

"At the moment I am numb. I can understand UK Sport but I don't necessarily agree with the pursuit of medals only. Even Seb Coe was blown away by the volleyball when he came to watch.

"We are due to play in the European League next year and at the moment we can't do that, but we will have a sit down and a think about what we are going to do. Maybe the players will want to carry on."


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