Paula Radcliffe loses lottery funding


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The Independent Online

Paula Radcliffe has paid the price for yet another summer of Olympic heartache by having her National Lottery funding withdrawn.

The marathon world record holder headed a group of senior athletes who have been removed from the World Class Performance Programme for 2013, UK Athletics announced today.

The 39-year-old's omission was not a surprise, given she missed the London 2012 Olympics through injury and has only raced one marathon since 2009, in Beijing last year. She has competed just once this year over any distance.

UKA have narrowed the focus for funding from athletes with top-eight potential to those who are medal contenders at global championships in the next Olympic cycle.

Radcliffe had been on podium-level funding, the highest level of Lottery support, which runs from around £13,000 to £26,000 and is in addition to non-financial help like access to coaches, facilities, medical staff and training camps.

She should, though, have little problem funding herself given the success she has had during her career.

The mother of two, who saw her Olympic hopes ruined by illness and injury in 2004 and 2008, pulled out of the 2012 marathon with a foot injury after failing a fitness test a week before the event.

Radcliffe, who also missed last year's World Championships in Daegu, was third in Beijing last September in her last outing over 26 miles. Before that she had not run a marathon since November 2009 in New York.

Her only appearance this year was in a half marathon in Vienna in which she came sixth in a disappointing 72.03 minutes, her slowest time over the distance.

Several other senior names have also seen their funding taken away, including Radcliffe's fellow marathon runner Mara Yamauchi, veteran sprinters Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis, European 400m hurdles champion Rhys Williams, former European 800m silver medallist Michael Rimmer, Commonwealth 1500m bronze medallist Steph Twell, former world 400m silver medallist Nicola Sanders and 800m runner Marilyn Okoro.

UKA said a significant number of athletes had exited the programme as they are not deemed medal contenders in 2016 or because they had not met agreed performance targets for the previous year.

UKA performance director Neil Black said: "Being part of the World Class Performance Plan is a privilege and not a right and athletes selected will be expected to fulfil tough performance criteria.

"We have identified a very talented group of athletes for support over the coming year and I am confident that we can build on the success of the last Olympic and Paralympic cycle starting with the European Indoors in Gothenburg in March.

"Accountability is at the heart of this programme and athletes who have not met performance criteria over the last year will not receive continued support. It is undoubtedly tough, but that is performance sport."

Dwain Chambers remains without Lottery funding despite being allowed back into the Olympic fold, because UK Sport, who distribute the money, have a zero tolerance attitude toward former drug cheats.

Athletes who impressed at the Olympics have been rewarded for their performances with increased funding.

High jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz has been promoted to podium funding, along with world junior 100m champion Adam Gemili.

Rising heptathlon star Katarina Johnson-Thompson, discus thrower Lawrence Okoye and sprint hurdler Lawrence Clarke have also been added to the podium ranks.

A further group of athletes, considered potential medallists at the 2020 Games, have been given lower-level podium potential support.

The programme also includes Paralympic athletes and amputee sprinter Jonnie Peacock has been rewarded for his T44 100m gold with podium funding.

UKA Paralympic head coach Peter Eriksson said: "We have had to take a number of difficult decisions in this funding cycle, but this is the strongest group of athletes we have selected to the Paralympic Programme since I arrived in 2009.

"We had an outstanding Paralympic Games in London and our focus is now on bettering that in four years time."