Sport England boosts weightlifting, badminton, archery and wheelchair rugby – The Guardian

Sport England is planning to soften the blow for four sports that had their elite funding axed last week by providing additional investment to help them bring young talent through.

Archery, badminton, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby were left reeling when UK Sport cut all their exchequer and lottery funding for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, with the chief executive of GB badminton describing the news as “catastrophic”.

While Sport England – whose remit is to increase the number of ordinary people exercising and playing sport – is unable to step in and fund a high-performance programme, its director of sport, Phil Smith, told the Guardian they would help in other ways.

“These four sports got some unexpected and bad news from UK Sport last week, and their talent plans were predicated entirely on receiving investment from UK Sport,” he said. “If that is now not going to be the case, I’m sure we are going to invest in those sports.”

Smith, who was speaking after announcing an £88m investment in grassroots sport – including £7.25m for badminton – said he would provide more details in February but promised: “We will support these sports. What we can and will do is help them create a talent programme that one day might get them back in the frame to attract high-performance investment.”

Among Sport England’s other investments, targeted at the 14.9 million adults in England who play regular sport, were £17.3m of funding for British Cycling, £9m for England Hockey, £8.3m for British Gymnastics and £7.6m for the England and Wales Cricket Board, which focused its pitch on 20-over formats, bringing more people with South Asian heritage into club cricket and introducing more girls and women playing the game.

“We now have more women playing regular sport or doing an activity than before. However, the gender gap is still pretty stubborn, so we still have more to do,” Smith said. “So every investment we make does pay attention to whether the audience that any organisation can reach is reaching women.”

Missing from the tranche of funding are the Amateur Swimming Association, the Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Football Union and several other large governing bodies. Their allocations will be announced in February.

However, Smith hinted that basketball was one area that could receive greater attention in the future. “Basketball has been out of UK Sport’s list for quite a while but what we have agreed with Basketball England is that we want to rebuild the talent programme,” he said. “Our conversations are going really well and I’m really impressed with the plan they are putting together.”


Write a Reply or Comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.