UK Sport, who do a decent job as the cash dispenser to the Oliver Twists of British sport, are accused of playing Scrooge to some of the more successful, notably cycling and amateur boxing. Amid the upbeat announcement of new funding packages, there seems to be some spinning more from the school of Alastair Campbell than Baroness Sue Campbell, who chairs the government agency. The bad news that cycling would lose £500,000 and that boxing would get only £950,000, half what was expected and needed with the advent of women's boxing, was buried.
Cycling's Dave Brailsford warns that this could seriously affect Britain's 2012 performance while Derek Mapp, chair of the British Amateur Boxing Association, says: "It is an outrageous decision and will make our preparations for the women's team only possible if we cut into the men's programme." Former world champion Barry McGuigan has come out fighting, calling it "a devastating blow".
We were at the House of Commons bash a few weeks back when former sports minister Richard Caborn, president of the ABA, waxed lyrically about prospects for London and the support boxing needs as a sport which helps combat youth crime. Caborn claims to be in boxing's corner so why hasn't there been a peep from him about this funding low blow?
Foster making his mark
Mark Foster, who famously swapped the pool for the Paso Doble on 'Strictly', has a new mission. Britain's most enduring swimmer, 39, a veteran of five Olympics, was the team's standard bearer in Beijing, and is now carrying the torch for grass-roots sports. "I will do anything I can to get people involved in sport whether it is swimming or whatever," he says. "Being active and having a healthy lifestyle can save your life. The problem is so many kids go home from school and park themselves in front of the computer screen to play games that way. We need role models. It is sad when I hear young girls saying when they grow up they want to be like Jordan." One of his own role-model aspects is as an ambassador for what is primed to be one of the finest sports facilities in the land, the Surrey Sports Park near Guildford which opens in April, and will host the women's rugby World Cup. "It is state of the art, quite stunning," says Foster.
"It is not purely about elite sport but grass roots as well, catering for up to 1,000 in a multi-sports complex which includes a 50-metre pool and Olympic Village-style accommodation. Virtually every sport is available. I think quite a few Olympic and Paralympic teams will be looking to use it as a pre-2012 base." The complex is owned by the University of Surrey, which will also be offering degree courses in sports education.
Help Barry beat the count
The end of the year sadly could also see the end of one of sport's most valuable publications. 'The Boxing Year Book', edited for 26 years by Barry J Hugman, faces a KO because of the economic climate, grim news for boxing buffs who rely on it for all the fight game's facts, records and fascinating insights. It is published by Mainstream at £18.99, worth every penny and a few more sales may help it beat the count. Happy New Year.Reuse content