Athletics: Collins admits cut in athlete Lottery support

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The Independent Online

Dave Collins, the UK Athletics performance director, confirmed yesterday that the number of competitors receiving Lottery support would drop from 65 to 38, and defended his decision to include a significant contingent - one in four - who would be 35 or older by the time of the 2008 Olympics.

There had been speculation that there would be no place for athletes such as Darren Campbell, or Ashia Hansen, who will not be fit enough to defend her Commonwealth triple-jump title next March. However, both athletes appeared on yesterday's list, which was trimmed in line with a general reduction in funding offered by the Government's awarding body, UK Sport.

Collins acknowledged that numerous young talents had been left off the list, including Rhys Williams, the 400m hurdler who won the European under-23 title this year and reached the World Championship semi-finals.

"If I have a mature athlete then the World Class Programme is the only route I can fund them through," Collins said. "But if I have an up-and-coming athlete I can access other funding packages that give them the same, or even better levels of support.

"There are 16 to 17 athletes on the programme who have been warned that they have to up their levels of performance in the next six months to stay on."