UK Sport board sets future direction for high performance sport beyond Rio
The board of UK Sport, the nation's high performance sports agency, has undertaken a strategic review of its performance investment policy, concluding that it is right to continue its medal-focussed strategy as it determines the way it will invest in sports beyond Rio 2016.
The organisation's board was asked to consider the findings of an extensive stakeholder and public consultation, facilitated by independent market and opinion research consultancy ComRes, to determine the best way to build on the success of the UK high performance system to date.
However, the findings of the review (published this morning) will come as a blow to a number of sports, including volleyball, tennis and basketball, who had each argued for a wider range of factors to be taken into account in decisions about funding.
UK Sport's CEO, Liz Nicholl, acknowledged that the decisions taken would create disappointment in a number of sports. "We will always have to operate within finite resources", she said "but we understand the desire from sports and partners in the sector, as well as the public, for us to be able to extend the impact of our investment into more sports".
Since its inception in 1997 UK Sport has, with National Lottery funding, helped Great Britain move from thirty-sixth on the Olympic medal table at the Atlanta Games in 1996 to third in both the Olympic and Paralympic medal tables at London 2012, amassing a record breaking 185 medals across thirty Olympic and Paralympic sports and in turn helping to create 213 Olympic and Paralympic medal winning athletes.
Likewise, at the Sochi Winter Games last year, Great Britain equalled its best ever performance in the winter Olympics and delivered its best in thirty years in the winter Paralympics, creating twenty-one medal winners overall.
The strategic review, and public consultation, focused on exploring a set of key principles which sit at the heart of UK Sport's investment policy.
UK Sport Chair, Rod Carr, said: "The Board was impressed by the level and quality of engagement with UK Sport's strategic review from both the public and our sector partners. It demonstrated that UK Sport's role in delivering medal success is valued highly by our stakeholders and the British public, and that they'd like to see our investment reach even more aspiring athletes.
"We are committed to continuously improving our high performance system, and I'd like to personally thank those that contributed to the review for helping us draw some clear conclusions around how we can continue to strive for world class success while delivering the greatest possible impact from investing National Lottery and Government funds into British sport".Liz Nicholl, commented: "UK Sport has proven its ability to deliver Olympic and Paralympic medal success over a period of eighteen years, and it is essential that we continue to refine our investment policy to ensure we remain competitive on the world stage and deliver the best possible return on our investment while continuing to build on the system that helps our talented athletes achieve medal success.
"We will now work to develop a clear, prioritised and costed plan, in line with our Board’s direction, and in collaboration with Government, to ensure we are ready to implement our new policy in time for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic investment cycle.
"While planning for Tokyo 2020, we will continue to provide our very best support to every potential medallist preparing for Rio, giving them the best possible chance to succeed and make the nation proud again next summer.”
Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, said: "UK Sport has played a vital role in Britain's medal success over the years, backed by significant investment from the Government and the National Lottery. But it is right that it looks at what more it can do to help maintain that success.
"I welcome UK Sport continuing to focus on medals and medallists to help Britain succeed in future Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to keep up the momentum from London 2012 and Sochi. But I am also pleased that it is open to taking the broader value of its investment into account in its funding decisions."
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