More opportunities to participate in Olympic and Paralympic sport will become possible with the recent announcement of an extra tier of funding by UK Sport. Since the phenomenal success of British athletes at the London 2012 games, both Olympic and Paralympic sport have seen a huge increase in popularity, with increased participation and interest in the events.
With this surge of interest, it is very easy to imagine that all athletes are well funded, but this is not always the case. Essential sports equipment and kit can be very costly, and a lack of access to funding is a significant barrier, especially to disabled athletes for whom equipment is often even more specialised. The charity I founded following the games, Kit Us Out, aims to provide kit to those athletes who need it to participate, and has so far been able to help over 60 athletes from 16 different nations.
The extra Sport UK funding for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 will be additional to the already existing levels. As it will allow more sports to access the UK Sport funding and directs funding at those taking “the first step”, it will undoubtedly provide a stronger route through to elite competition. It should also result in opportunities being opened up for more disadvantaged groups, including those with disabilities, and individuals from all walks of life.
As previous funding was based on medal achievements, there was always the danger that it could drop at any point. Therefore, stability was lacking and sustained improvement was difficult. The new funding model provides a more stable and secure framework and ensures a longer legacy for future generations.
The new funding, referred to as The Future Strategy, will commence in April 2021 and was announced after a year-long public consultation as well as evidence gathering by key stakeholders. UK Sport believes that the new funding will “enable the pursuit of medal success, whilst reaching deeper to develop the next generation of athletes and allowing more sports to realise their Olympic and Paralympic ambitions.” The chair of UK Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger even said: “We are confident the new strategy will help sustain medal success while enabling more communities to be inspired by the power of high performance sport.”
With its Future Strategy, Sport UK has set out a more sustainable vision for the future of achievement in sport. It acknowledges that the eight year cycle in the run up to the Olympics is of great importance, as is investing in the future of sports. Inspiring the next generation through medal success creates a self-sustaining cycle of development for sport, which would not be possible without adequate funding at every stage of the process.