Funding body UK Sport is accused of failing to keep Olympic legacy pledge

Michael Jamieson's was one of only three swimming medals won by Team GB. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Michael Jamieson's was one of only three swimming medals won by Team GB. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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UK Sport has been accused of reneging on promises to build a legacy after revealing the winners and losers in terms of funding for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The high performance sports agency announced a record pot of illion to be distributed in the run-up to the games in Brazil, with cycling, rowing, boxing, athletics and gymnastics among those given increases.

But several sports are paying the price for failure at London 2012 with severe cuts. Basketball, handball, wrestling and table tennis miss out on funding altogether, while volleyball is down to £400,000 from £3.5m.

It has led to angry reactions, with Team GB volleyball player Maria Bertelli tweeting: “@uk_sport @london2012 @sebcoe legacy? Please explain? Gave everything & more because I believed your promises #false.”

Chris McDermott, a member of the British handball team, reacted with dismay, writing on his twitter account @ChristopherMcDÑ: “I’m devastated. Absolutely gutted. Gave everything for 7 years now we’ve been chopped.”

Fellow 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.”

British Basketball described UK Sport’s decision to cut its funding totally ahead of Rio as “devastating” and a “waste” of previous investment, while Colin Nicholson, chief executive of British Wrestling, said the news was “very disappointing”.

Swimming was another major loser after it returned just three medals at London 2012. It has seen funding cut to £21.4m from £25.1m, although British Swimming had been braced for bad news and chief executive David Sparkes remained pragmatic.

“Overall we are satisfied with the outcome,” he said. “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.”

There were increases in funding for four other aquatic sports – disability swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and women’s water polo. They come as part of a number of funding improvements, with the biggest increase of any Olympic sport going to boxing.

It will see funding increased by 44 per cent to £13.8m, though £9.55m is conditional on the sport sorting out some internal issues.

Cycling is up to £30.6m from £26.3m, athletics has a £1.7m increase to £26.8m, rowing is up from £27.3m to £32.6m and equestrian sport also received a boost.

The British Equestrian Federation has been awarded £17,929,600 for Olympic equestrian sport and £3,782,800 for Paralympic equestrian sport.

Gymnastics is up from £10.8m to £14.5m and sailing from £22.9m to £24.5m, while investment in Paralympic sport also rises dramatically.

The British Paralympic Association (BPA) welcomed an overall increase in funding of 43 per cent, saying: “The BPA has always maintained that, for the Paralympic movement in the UK, London should be a springboard on to 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 Paralympics GB team in London has acted as the catalyst.”