Today UK Sport announced their funding plans for the road to Tokyo 2020. This news was not good for anyone related to Archery, Fencing, Weightlifting, Wheelchair Rugby, and the sport that got me upset – Badminton.
Before I get into the news of today. Lets have a quick look at what the UK Sport Funding actually is and how it helps.
“The primary role of UK Sport is to strategically invest National Lottery and Exchequer income to maximise the performance of UK athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the global events which precede them.
“Investment decisions are made on a four year basis wherever possible to cover a complete Olympic or Paralympic cycle but are focussed on an eight year performance development model.
“Success is measured by the medals won, the number of medallists developed, and the quality of the systems and processes in place to find and support the nation’s most promising future champions.” – UK Sport website
There’s even a nice flow chart to show where the money goes.
The money is allocated according to performance bands, plans are written, and targets set – with the outcome essentially being to win medals at the next Olympics. The more success we have, the more money is put into funding; the funding for Rio 2016 was 11% than that for London 2012. In fact, on average each medal in Rio cost £5.5m in funding.
UK Sport has built a reputation for firm decision making when it comes to fund allocation – if your sport doesn’t make the cut, you don’t get a cut of funding. Perhaps it is in part throwing your eggs in one basket as sports such as cycling saw big funding increases post-Beijing. Many critics also believe the tactics are damaging grass root sports; in one cycle there’s plenty of money to fund development projects, in the next it has all gone.
Here’s a summary of the funding allocation for recent Olympics.
This chart has never been a great site for any badminton fan, with funding slowly falling. This isn’t really much of a surprise; Beijing target 1 medal – not achieved, London target 1 medal – not achieved.
Despite no medal since 2004, the Rio target was once again set as 1 medal – this time ACHIEVED.
Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge caused a big upset by winning a bronze medal. They wouldn’t have been top of the list of UK competitors likely to win a medal, yet they delivered. It was a signal of the improvement of UK Badminton’s increased strength in depth – we have players that can compete at the top level in a number of disciplines.
Goal reached, so a funding increase should follow right? The next aim should be 2 medals, yes?
Well, the target may go up – it will certainly again be at least 1 medal – yet UK Sport announced that funding for Badminton is to be cut completely. It’s been a huge shock, and it raises the question, what happens now?
Badminton doesn’t attract the levels of sponsorship to be self-sufficient, it’s current development programs are already under-funded, many top athletes can’t afford to train and play without the critical backing from the governing body.
Quite frankly, this is a massive blow to the sport in the UK that can really impact any future success. I feel for the next generation of UK athletes that won’t receive the support they deserve, I feel for the program developers that will see their hard work reach a stop if funding is retracted, but mostly I feel for the two medalists who, only 3 months ago, achieved what was really only a dream of theirs, they reached the pinnacle, yet today they find out that the sport they love and have committed their lives to is being crossed off the list.
— Marcus Ellis (@ellis_marcus111) December 9, 2016
I am devastated by the news today from @uk_sport, I gave everything at the Olympics for my sport and Britain and you take ALL our funding
— Chris Langridge (@C_Langridge) December 9, 2016