UK Sport have outlined the most significant change to their strategy for a generation by agreeing to widen funding to selected Olympic and Paralympic sports with no immediate expectation of medal success.
The so-called “no compromise” policy, which has underpinned a remarkable transformation in British Olympics medals from 15 at Atlanta in 1996 to 67 in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, was openly ruthless in directing financial support to those athletes who might realistically win medals. It delivered tangible results but left certain sports, such as badminton following the Rio Olympics, cut adrift.
UK Sport received £550 million of government funding for the cycle that ends at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and is committed to its new philosophy regardless of whether that level of investment is maintained for the next cycle to Paris in 2024. The correlation between investment and medals, however, is clear and there is a private feeling that a major leap in resources, to something approaching £1 billion, could even allow Team GB to usurp the United States at the very top of the Olympic medal table.
UK Sport announced on Tuesday that it would introduce a third tier of funding to add to the existing Podium and Podium Potential levels that would include what is called Progression. This is designed specifically to enable sports and athletes to take the first step towards the performance pathway and would be a long-term investment over up to 12 years. The Podium and Podium Potential bandings respectively relate to those athletes and sports with the chance to win medals within four and eight years.