Athletics: Elite competitors win grant freedom

Dave Moorcroft, the figurehead of British athletics, will learn in London today whether his plans to secure the future of the sport have been approved.

Moorcroft, appointed chief executive of the British Athletic Federation shortly before its financial collapse last month, hopes to form a small project team to establish a new structure for athletics in this country.

Funding for the enterprise, which would involve liaising widely with other governing bodies and influential individuals, would come from the UK Sports Council.

While the BAF may be in the hands of the administrators, the sport is continuing to experience the financial benefits of National Lottery funding.

Fifteen of Britain's elite athletes have been awarded an allowance of pounds 10,000 a year to assist their personal coaches as they work towards the 2000 Olympics. The money from Performance Athlete Services - the body set up in June to implement the Lottery's World Class Performance programme - will be used at the discretion of competitors such as Jonathan Edwards, Steve Backley and Colin Jackson.

The athletes were selected as Britain's leading medal prospects for Sydney by the PAS board and the technical directors of the BAF.

"Recognising that one of the major difficulties facing the personal coaches of Britain's best athletes is the limited time they are able to spend together, we decided to provide support in a tangible way," said Moorcroft, who is on the PAS board.

Other athletes to benefit will be Jamie Baulch, Allison Curbishley, Ashia Hansen, Mick Hill, Kelly Holmes, Tony Jarrett, Denise Lewis, Richard Nerurkar, Paula Radcliffe, Mark Richardson, Steve Smith and Iwan Thomas.

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