Britain is confident of bettering its record- breaking success at the London Olympics following a commitment by its government to maintain funding levels through to the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
British Prime Minis
ter David Cameron has pledged to invest 508 million pounds ( USD 797 million) of government and National Lottery into Olympic sports over the next four years, boosting Britains hopes of building on the 65 medals the country won at its home games.
” It is an exceptional position to be in,” said UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl, who works for the body that distributes cash to Olympic sports. ” For most countries who have had an uplift in funding for a home games, thats not been sustained.
” To have that confirmation now, six months before the funding ends, we are in a good place to keep up the momentum . As for winning more medals ( in Rio), we think its entirely possible.” Roared on by passionate home crowds, Britain won 29 golds to finish third in the overall medals table at the London Games, its best performance at an Olympics in the modern era. That bumped Russia into fourth place, with only United States and China finishing higher. But there are fears that the post- Olympic feelgood factor will soon fizzle out, leaving a lost legacy.
” Its about how bad do we want it and putting in the work,” said Peter Keen, the performance advisor to UK Sport. ” I hope people have got longer memories and remember just how good it was, and how much we valued it. Its absolutely game on. ” The planning work for Rio is vastly better than it was six years ago – unrecognizably better – not just in the words written but the quality of the thinking. We are actually starting to get it. We arenalt39t the finished article.” Britain won its medals across 17 sports, with nine disciplines falling short of their targets. They are now unlikely to receive funding for the Rio Games because of UK Sports ” no compromise” policy.
” We will not be able to fund each and every sport that we funded this time round,” Nicholl said. ” Our aim to make sure that when we make our Rio investments, we will invest in every sport that has medal potential.
” For handball and other sports that have been given host- nation places here, they have to demonstrate to us that they can qualify by right for the Olympic Games. If they canalt39t be there, then they canalt39t be supported to achieve a medal. Thats what our nocompromise approach is all about, thats the approach that works. We will not waver.” The decision about how much funding will be allocated to each Olympic sport will be made on Dec.
12. The successful sports – rowing, cycling and sailing – – should again receive about 27 million pounds ( USD 42 million) each over the next Olympic cycle, but swimming is one of the high- profile sports that could see investment slashed. Britain won only three medals in the pool, when its target was in between five and seven.
That leaves the difficult scenario of how to improve the medal chances of a sport that is about to receive a cut in government funding.
” Every sport has to take responsibility itself for driving its own development to a point at which we can identify that it has future medal potential and that we will be investing,” Nicholl said.
Rower Katherine Grainger, who won gold in the womens double sculls with Anna Watkins, is one of Britains 120 medalists from the London Games who will visit schools and local sports clubs over the next few months to share her Olympic journeys in a bid to inspire the next generation of Olympians.