Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Cameron guarantees Olympic funding

Prime Minister David Cameron said there is 'a direct link between elite success and participation in sport'

Funding for Olympic sports has been guaranteed until the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, David Cameron has announced.

UK Sport will receive £125 million annually for the next four years to maintain funding at the same level as the run-up to London.

The move is "to reward the success of the UK's outstanding elite sport system" following the British team's record-breaking medal success at the London Olympics.

The Prime Minister said: "The motto of these Games has been 'inspire a generation'. Nothing has been more inspirational than seeing our elite athletes win gold this summer. There's a direct link between elite success and participation in sport. I want one of the legacies of these Games to be our athletes triumphing in Rio in 2016, and in future Olympic Games. Guaranteeing this funding will help ensure that happens."

The larger chunk of the money comes from the National Lottery but Exchequer funding makes up £40 million a year. Until now, UK Sport, the body that distributes cash to Olympic and Paralympic sports as well as providing a number of specialist services, had only been guaranteed funding up until 2014.

A Downing Street statement said: "As an exception, Exchequer funding is now being committed to 2016/17, to give athletes financial certainty in the crucial final two years in the run up to Rio 2016."

Funded British athletes will be asked to offer up to five days a year of their time, free of charge, to take part in campaigns to encourage sport in schools.

UK Sport chair Baroness Sue Campbell said: "What has been achieved in London is momentous. We have put the UK on the map as a high performance nation with the talent to compete with the best nations of the world. What was once unthinkable has been achieved resoundingly. The Government's announcement to maintain funding in our high performance system demonstrates vision and commitment to sustain this level of high performance beyond London on to Rio and beyond - a true legacy of the Games."

Cycling's Sir Chris Hoy, who has won six Olympic golds, added: "I am old enough to remember a time when things were run on a shoestring budget before National Lottery and Government investment transformed British Olympic sport. Having these guarantees for the future will be a huge boost for all the athletes aiming to win medals at Rio 2016 and proves we are serious about building a strong legacy from London 2012."

Jessica Ennis, who won gold in the heptathlon, said funding had helped her during her career, while the sports medicine services had helped her recover from a foot injury before the Beijing Games in 2008. Ben Ainslie, the four-times Olympic sailing champion, said: "I was at Atlanta in 1996 when GB finished 36th in medal table so to see where we are now in third place at London 2012 demonstrates just how successful this strategic investment has been."