OLYMPIC GAMES: Athletics punished with cut in funding

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The Independent Online
ATHLETICS WAS the highest- profile loser yesterday as Sport England, responsible for grass roots investment, announced its funding for the next Olympic cycle. Last year's figure of pounds 2m will drop to pounds 1.35m in 2005- 6, a measure which reflects what is seen as the sport's failure to maximise its medal success from Lottery investment.

"There were some high profile performances from athletics at the Olympics," said Sport England's newly installed director of sport, Stephen Baddeley. "But the feeling was that the fantastic results achieved papered over the cracks."

Sport England has also withheld its four-year funding figure for athletics until the sport goes further towards adopting the measures recommended in last year's Foster Review.

A total of pounds 315m has been allocated for the next four years towards assisting development and improving participation levels in 32 sports.

Only four codes apart from athletics have seen their funding drop. Gymnastics drops marginally from pounds 2.3m to pounds 2.2m; karate from pounds 500,000 to pounds 250,000; hockey, where the women failed to reach the Olympics and the men finished ninth, has the biggest drop, from pounds 4.25m to pounds 2,348,000, and boxing also loses out, although this sport will gain pounds 1.2m over four years through the new Community Club development programme.

Golf has the biggest gain, up from pounds 1.3m last year to pounds 2.07m.