Britain eyes more medals in Rio after funding rise

By Martyn Herman, Reuters

Posted at Dec 19 2012 10:37 AM | Updated as of Dec 19 2012 06:37 PM

LONDON - Britain has targeted an improvement on its London 2012 medal haul in Rio in four years with UK Sport announcing an 11 percent rise in funding for elite sport on Tuesday.

Government-funded UK Sport will invest 347 million pounds ($564 million) in 42 Olympic and Paralympic sports leading up to Rio in 2016, with cycling and rowing the biggest beneficiaries as reward for their performances in London this year.

Several sports are effectively on report, however, while other minority sports have been cast adrift completely under UK Sport's "no compromise" policy.

Swimming, in which Britain performed poorly at the Olympics, is one of four sports that has been told must improve its performance to receive its full four-year funding package while boxing, despite a strong showing from the British team at London 2012, has also been told to solve organisational issues.

Basketball, handball, volleyball, table tennis and wrestling will all receive no UK Sport funds in the build-up to Rio under the tough "no compromise" policy.

No country has ever improved on its host-country performances at the next Games and Britain's various sports have been given ambitious targets after winning 65 medals in the Olympics, finishing a best-ever third in the medals table, and 120 in the Paralympics.

"Our announcement today is unprecedented, as we increase investment in British elite sport post our home Games and aim to achieve something no other host nation in recent history has before, in surpassing this year' incredible performance at both the next summer Olympic and Paralympic Games," Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair of UK Sport, said on Tuesday.

"London 2012 was just the beginning, not the end, for Olympic and Paralympic sport in this country, and we plan to continue to make this funding work as hard as it can to help our best athletes achieve medal success at the highest level; to make this nation as proud as they did this summer."


UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl acknowledged that surpassing London 2012 is "ambitious" and said it was necessary for some sports to have their funding pulled.

"While these decisions have not been easy to make, we are ensuring that every athlete with medal potential for Rio 2016 is supported," she told a news conference.

"Our no compromise approach is investing in the best and emerging talent. It's good news for a very significant number of sports and athletes but some will be disappointed.

"It's painful for some but they haven't met our investment criteria."

A total of 276.4 million pounds will be invested in British Olympic sports for the Rio cycle, a five percent rise, while Paralympic sports will benefit from a 43 percent increase.

British Cycling, which will enjoy 37 million pounds to bolster a programme that claimed eight Olympic gold medals and eight Paralympic gold in London, welcomed Tuesday's UK Sport announcement.

"Today's announcement from UK Sport is recognition of the success of our riders, our coaches and the work we put into identifying new talent," said chief executive Ian Drake.

However, British Basketball's performance chairman Roger Moreland reacted angrily to their funding being pulled.

"We knew the criteria that UK Sport were applying for Rio, but having been funded to the tune of 8.5m in the lead up to the London Olympics because of the sport's medal potential for the future, this is a devastating decision and is a waste of that investment," he said in a statement.