UK Sport pull no punches

  • Last Updated: December 18 2012, 18:49 GMT

Sports that failed to live up to expectations at London had their funding ruthlessly slashed as the body which funds Britain's Olympians vowed to create history by topping Team GB's 2012 tally in Rio.

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Cycling, rowing, boxing, gymnastics and equestrian were celebrating this evening after receiving a big hike in their funding from UK Sport's record £347million pot for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Athletics, sailing, and taekwondo also enjoyed significant rises, but the likes of swimming, basketball, volleyball and handball were all hit hard after failing to hit their targets this summer.

The 15 per cent cut in swimming's funding to £21.4million was expected, but the brutal withdrawal of all financial support for Britain's basketball teams was not.

British Basketball reacted angrily to the announcement tonight, with performance chairman Roger Moreland describing the action as "devastating" and that previous investment had been a "waste".

He added: "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."

But minister for sport Hugh Robertson denied that was the case and backed UK Sport's "no compromise" approach towards basketball, despite the sport achieving its target of a fifth to eighth-place finish in the men's and women's events.

"Basketball teams are expensive," Robertson said.

"If they have no chance of qualifying for Rio would you want to fund them and then take the money away from a cyclist or rower who has a good chance of getting a medal?

"When you host an Olympic Games you have to put teams out in every sport. The funding for Rio is done on a performance basis and there is not a lot of point at this level in funding teams who are not going to qualify for the Olympics because as we saw this summer, what everyone likes to see is a successful Team GB. You have to make hard choices."

Handball, table tennis, wrestling, wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball are the other sports to have their funding completely taken away.

Swimming, meanwhile, suffered a drop of almost £4million in their funding after picking up three of the five to seven medals they had targeted at London 2012.

UK Sport pointed out that changes in the British Swimming's management and coaching structure also meant they were not yet confident whether the sport could solve their problems ahead of Rio.

For that reason swimming, along with Judo, fencing and boxing, will have to report back to UK Sport at the end of every year to justify the release of the funds assigned to their sport for the following year.

"There are concerns we have, risks to our investment and that's why we are going with one-year reviews for those sports," said UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl, who also has governance concerns with the other three sports put on yearly reviews.

"Swimming were disappointed and we were disappointed by their performances in London.

"They are leaderless at the moment. They have no performance director or head coach at this point in time. Those appointments have to be made. They have to bed in and convince us that they are now settled, focused and can achieve their real potential in Rio and then we will invest for the remaining three years.

"They will get there."

While the funding cuts may seem harsh to some, UK Sport is convinced their 'no compromise' approach is the right way to dish out funding having seen it deliver so much success in recent times.

The principle allowed funding flow through to the athletes who delivered so well in Beijing and in London, where Team GB collected 65 medals and Paralympics GB 120 medals.

For that reason UK Sport are convinced Britain can become the first country in history to win more medals at a Games that directly follow one they have hosted.

"We wouldn't announce (that goal) if we didn't believe in it," Nicholl said.

"We have reviewed the plans that every sport have submitted and we are confident that we can do better than London because we see it.

"We know that although there were some amazing performances there is still more that can be done to make the athletes better."

Among the big winners today in the Paralympic sector were disabled athletics, who saw their funding grow by £4million to £10.7million after delivering 29 medals in London 2012.

Wheelchair tennis' funding has doubled following their success in London while disability swimming enjoyed a rise of nearly £1.5million.

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