Olympic funding case study: 'If we aren't funded, our efforts will go to waste'


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The Independent Online

Rachel Laybourne will be at work this morning, at a secondary school in Essex. Two weeks ago she received her first pay cheque since March, a portion of which will go towards paying off the £10,000 debt she ran up representing Britain at the London Olympics.

Laybourn doubts whether she will ever pull on a GB jersey again. She was part of the women's volleyball team that scraped and saved their way towards London, playing professionally for a time in Poland and then living in a fire station in Sheffield with the rest of the team in the build-up to the Games.

Since London though she can no longer afford to play her sport at the level at which she is capable and with the likelihood that volleyball will receive little or no funding towards the 2016 Rio Olympics, Laybourn's international career may well be over. Given the uncertainty she had not option but to find a job.

"I can't believe how much money I owe but unfortunately that is the sacrifice you have to make in some elite sports in this country – in my sport anyway," said Laybourn. "We were always told we had to be credible. We went there and got a win, of all the development sports we were the one that got the win. We have grounds to say please give us funding, give us recognition for what we have achieved. We do deserve some reward.

"I've got a horrible, horrible feeling. I don't believe we will get a fair amount or any amount. At that point where does British volleyball go – it can only go underground where it was seven, eight years ago. It was supposed to be all about going to the Games and establishing Great Britain, for me that is an absolute travesty if that is lost. It seems grossly unfair."

"I don't think we will ever become contenders in volleyball, handball, basketball if the money is continually given to the key sports. The others will never get on the radar. We have inspired a generation but unless you can capture that imagination and keep it, it will be a one-hit wonder."