As part of UK Sport’s annual review of all its Olympic investments, the decision has been made to implement its supposedly successful no-compromise approach to Winter Games funding. This basically means over funding those sports that no other country or anyone else is really interested in, because it gives us the best chance of winning a medal.
The big losers in this stupid decision, is the huge participation sports of Snowboarding and Skiing which will no longer receive a single penny of funding. Whereas sports such as Skeleton, bobsleigh, short-track skating and curling are receiving whopping increases in their funding.
The total funding for Winter Olympic sport has risen from £6.5 million for Vancouver to £11.3m for Sochi, an increase funded through increased Lottery income and prioritization of overall spend.
Olympic snowboard cross rider Zoe Gillings is frustrated by this announcement but vowed to keep pushing herself to one day becomes the worlds number 1.
“There are lots of questions which I'm trying to find answers to, but the biggest is to understand how the decision has been made. I appreciate there is strict criteria on allocation of funding and if your performance is not up to scratch, then fine, but my results have improved every year since the funding began and come well within the criteria set by UK Sport on their website. Why am I not being funded?”
Zoe commented about UK Sport, “Make no Mistake about it, I may not agree with their current decision but over the past 4 years UK Sport have been the single biggest influence in my career and have allowed me to get to where I am today. They have helped me in many ways with my World Class program including building me an indoor start gate and producing me technologically advanced equipment on the lead up to Vancouver, they are not just about finance. They are a World Class organization and one required to take our top athletes to the podium.”
Zoe now faces uncertain times ahead but she is clear what direction she is going to take, “Even though this news is extremely demoralizing and at the moment I literally don't know how I'm going to fund the program going forward there is absolutely no question, I will be continuing in the sport, 100 per cent. I have faced many obstacles in the last ten years – some minor and some very serious - and even though the answer to the current funding problem is yet to be found, there is no question I will continue.”
In 2006, following Zoe’s 15th place finish at the Winter Olympics in Turn, snowboarding was allocated £248,000 by UK Sport for the next 4 year period. Zoe received an additional Athletes personal award to put toward sporting and living costs of £13,500 per annum for the first two years and then in recognition of her success and results on the World Class podium program this was increased to £19,500 for the last two years which ended in September 2010.
Apart from the £248,000 (£62,000 per annum) that is used to put towards coaches, technician/team manager and physiotherapist when affordable, and pay for all their travel, accommodation and subsistence around the world on a 12 month basis, Zoe was provided with a full time dry land training base at the English Institute of sport at Bath University where she had daily access to a strength & conditioning coach, physiotherapist, doctor and sports psychologist. Even with £248,000 it was extremely difficult running this program, now, Zoe will receive no funding, zero.