No medals, no money: UK Sport plays hardball with 2012 failures

 

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The Independent Online

The cheers of the crowd have barely died away but already minority sports that revelled in their moment in the Olympic sun are facing the realities of a tough future.

Britain fielded a handball team for the first time in the Olympics, while water polo returned for the first time in more than half a century. Neither is likely to feature as part of Team GB for the Rio Games in 2016, losing the funding they received to allow them to compete in London.

UK Sport, the body that distributes elite funding to Olympic sports, is in the process of determining how much each governing body should receive towards Rio – it has a pot of £508m to divide. Sports have to demonstrate that their teams or athletes are capable of winning medals in four years' time or, failing that, are able to qualify and finish in the top eight.

As the host nation, Britain was able to enter every event in London. But for Rio, sports such as handball will have to qualify. Having lost every men's and women's match in London there is practically no chance of that. Under UK Sport's determined "no compromise" approach, that means handball will not be funded again.

It is not only the "lesser" sports that face cuts. Swimming failed to meet its medal target and so will be given less public funding. It is a system that rewards success and has worked spectacularly well, helping deliver Britain's best Games result for more than a century.

Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: "Our aim is to make sure that when we make our Rio investments we invest in every sport that has medal potential. The starting point for handball and other sports that have been given host nation places is that they can qualify by right for the Olympics. If they can't be there they can't be supported to achieve a medal. We'd love to see in the future handball come through to where it can qualify by right. If they can show they can be on an upward trajectory to potential medals, then we will be very happy to fund them. We will not be able to fund every sport."

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