Britain’s female weightlifters: Worth their weight in gold?
Lifters are out to earn recognition after winning funding appeal
Let’s face it: basketball has a better image than weightlifting.
You will be unlikely to see Rihanna, the singer, and her model friend Cara Delevingne – spectators at a recent LA Lakers game – in Kazakhstan this November for the weightlifting World Championships.
So the outcry over UK Sport’s decision this week to deny British Basketball funding in favour of the country’s female weightlifters is perhaps understandable. Basketball is more visible and has star quality.
But that is not to say the widespread wailing on basketball’s behalf is right. UK Sport doesn’t do emotion – it cares about shiny medals. Hence the reason why British Weightlifting won an appeal to have £894,000 allocated to fund its drive for Olympic glory.
Rod Carr, the chairman of UK Sport, said British Weightlifting showed in its appeal a “compelling new strategy focused on developing their most talented female athletes with a view to challenging for medals by Tokyo 2020”. In other words, women who lift weights have more potential to win medals than people who play basketball, water polo or do synchronised swimming – the sports which failed in their appeals.
Emily Godley, the 23-year-old English weightlifting champion in the 63kg category, feels strongly that her sport deserves the funding. And she is determined to show the rest of the country that the cash injection is not merely because UK Sport was dazzled by impressive-looking numbers related to potential or post-London 2012 participation figures.
“It is a massive help,” Godley said. “We don’t want to take it just because GB Weightlifting has given UK Sport a bunch of projected figures. We want to say, ‘Yes, we can do it’, and produce some results to show it is worth their while.
“Even outside the elite lifters, there are clubs and smaller championships where more people are getting involved. UK Sport may have looked at that, but I think they see things more black and white: they want to achieve, they want progression and medals in Tokyo. So no pressure... it is still six years away but it will fly by.”
Godley is part of a group of female lifters in their late teens or early twenties who UK Sport believes have medal potential for the 2020 Olympics.
She has demonstrated a marked improvement since going part-time in her job at the Financial Ombudsman Service – by coincidence she reduced her hours at her day job in the week it was announced that weightlifting was getting its funding cut (“I had to laugh,” she said) – and she has a packed 2014 schedule. The British Championships are first up, in May, followed by the Commonwealth Games and the Worlds – which, in turn, will be the first step towards qualification for the 2016 Olympics.
“A lot of the female lifters are young and still developing,” she said. “I did OK at the World Championships [last November], but it was my first one – it was good experience for me.
“Then I improved at the English Championships so I could feel my progression. I think UK Sport has taken it into account the fact the female lifters are all young and developing. It is really great to have the support and have the funding reinstated, it is a massive deal for us. It has made a big difference to me.”
Godley does have sympathy for the sports which failed in their appeals against having their funding cut completely. Even within weightlifting there was disappointment, as the male lifters remain unfunded by UK Sport. But she hopes that the snub will motivate participants in other sports, as well as her male counterparts, to attain the required levels.
“You are always going to get disappointed people,” Godley said. “Even the male lifters, they have no funding and they are gutted right now. But that won’t stop them trying to compete. They will keep training and working hard.
“UK Sport want results and medals. Most sports are aware what the situation is and they are no doubt doing their best to improve so they can get their funding back.
“You don’t get into weightlifting because of the money, you get into it because you have a passion for it. So funding or not, I would still have been motivated. You can’t take funding for granted.”
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...