Top UK athletes’ training HQs ‘won’t move to Scotland’

UK Sport chair and olympic champion Katherine Grainger.
UK Sport chair and olympic champion Katherine Grainger.
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UK Sport will resist calls from the Scottish Government to force a relocation of some of Britain’s high-performance sport programmes despite calls to funnel more of its investment north of the Border.

With British Curling, supported by a hefty subsidy from Sportscotland, the only Olympic-level governing body based outside England, talks have been held to divert elite centres elsewhere.

The discussions have been spurred by the dismay at British Judo’s decision following the 2016 Olympics to largely abandon its Edinburgh-based hub for one in the Midlands. Talks are 
already understood to be at an advanced stage to better integrate the Scottish Institute of Sport’s well-respected science and medical set-up into a UK-centric system with its counterparts in the other home nations.

But speaking on the Gold Coast at the Commonwealth Games, UK Sport’s chair, Katherine Grainger, said there would be no quota system imposed by the quango to 
give Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland and Wales, a larger slice of this sporting action. This assertion came despite informal talks on the matter with Scotland’s Sports Minister, Aileen Campbell

“Scotland, rightly so, is very proud of a lot of the venues they rightly have,” the former Olympic rowing champion, said.

“There was a question of whether they could be used more. It wasn’t a financial question. It depends because she was asking how it’s decided which sport is moved where and all the rest.

“A lot of it is very organic on where the coaching is, where the favourites are, rather than pinpointing paces.

“It’s where the need is. Scotland does have amazing centres – look at Inverclyde.

“Whether or not a sport might be based there, or where training camps happen when people are coming over, is a different question, but discussions are ongoing on how we can help best using Scottish facilities.

“It’s not finances, it’s as things go on and there’s not a timeframe for it.”

Ms Grainger said sports with a need for change would be told what was available, with training camp sites expected to be pushed strongly ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Ms Campbell said she believed there remained some opportunities over the horizon to squeeze more from in-house investment.

“We had a really positive engaging discussion with Katherine,” she said.

“She’s really committed and dedicated to sport. We’re lucky in that she knows and understands Scotland very well, so we have somebody who is familiar with the landscape, but who recognised the vast investment we’ve put in.”