Badminton Scotland chief slams funding cut appeal refusal

Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour in action for Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images
Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour in action for Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images
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Badminton Scotland chief executive Anne Smillie has said she is extremely disappointed by UK Sport’s rejection of GB Badminton’s appeal against a 100 per cent funding cut and has called for Government intervention.

The GB Board were equally disappointed by the ruling and Smillie said: “The decision by UK Sport to refuse badminton’s appeal is a major set-back to the sport and the Government should intervene.

“I see no justification for leaving an Olympic medal-winning sport with no funding whatsoever, especially when sports that didn’t win medals or reach their targets have retained their funding.”

Smillie said there would be serious implications for players’ careers, in particular for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games and European silver medallist Kirsty Gilmour.

“UK Sport’s reasoning that badminton is unlikely to win a medal in Tokyo and that GB players need to be more consistent against the very best in the world is a poor excuse.

“Badminton won a men’s doubles medal in Rio: a shock result because it wasn’t the medal chance that had been predicted, but less of a shock to those who know the quality of the badminton programme.

“Badminton exceeded its targets, has a strong pathway and has a strategic plan which was approved by UK Sport.

“Without a strong performance programme to provide quality coaching and with no grant to enable them to train and compete full time, British athletes will be at a huge disadvantage.

“It means there is now a massive barrier to the badminton pathway and the fear is that many young people will be deterred from taking up the sport because reaching the top will be virtually impossible.

“Badminton is one of the most popular sports in the UK. Over three quarters of a million people, of all ages, play regularly. It is probably the most accessible sport with every town and village in the land having a badminton court.

“There are a number of sports that are far less accessible to ordinary people and far more expensive to take part in which have attracted greater investment.

“The situation of Kirsty Gilmour shows the impact from a Scottish perspective. She is a Commonwealth Games and European Championships silver medallist who reached a world ranking of 15 to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Her goal was to continue her development and mount a serious challenge for a medal in Tokyo.

“To do this she had a personal award from UK Sport to allow her to train full time and a competition budget to allow her to compete all over the world to gain the necessary points. All of this has now been taken away yet Kirsty’s costs associated with training every day and competing all over the world must still be met.

“Badminton Scotland will support Kirsty and she will work with Malaysian coach Tat Meng Wong, who we have brought to Scotland to work with our premier players in the build up to the BWF World Championships 2017 in Glasgow this August.”