April 18 - Quadruple Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent has endorsed the award of an extra £750,000 ($1.2 million/€916,000) towards final preparations for Britain's Olympians and Paralympians, marking the milestone of 100 days from the start of the London Games.
The additional award, announced by UK Sport – the nation's high-performance sports agency – and funded by Team 2012 presented by Visa, adds to the existing £312 million ($499 million/€381 million) investment of funds by the National Lottery, Government Exchequer and Team 2012 into Britain's sports and athletes for the current Olympic cycle.
Sir Matthew (pictured top), chairman of the Team 2012 Appeal, said: "Team 2012 exists so that, come Games-time, athletes are in a position where they can say to themselves: 'Everything is in place, I'm in the shape of my life and I couldn't possibly be better prepared'.
"The extra Team 2012 funding awarded by UK Sport to our Olympic and Paralympic sports marks the final 100 days of preparation before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games and will be used to give our athletes an extra boost."
Pinsent added: "To help ensure no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of excellence, we'll be continuing our fundraising efforts in these crucial final days and hope to raise £20 million ($32 million/€24 million) to support the preparations of Olympic and Paralympic athletes this summer.
"From providing extra training camps and competition experience to new equipment or additional sports science and medical support, this money will ensure a fantastic platform on which to send 'Our Greatest Team' to the Games."
The investment in each sport is roughly equivalent to £1,000 ($1,600/€1,200) per athlete selected for the Games, and, after submitting a business case to UK Sport for the additional money, most sports have opted to invest in three key areas in order to enhance their final preparations:
· Additional training camps and competitions: for example, the men's hockey team will now be travelling to the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia in May and the men's water polo team will now be inviting Italy, the current world champions, to attend its preparation camp ahead of the Games to gain competitive experience against a top team;
· New kit or equipment: for example, the wheelchair tennis team is investing in protective covers to keep players' chairs in top condition when they travel and the cycling team will be investing in a rest and recovery package, including white noise generators, and posture control, reading and relaxation chairs, for its athletes for use both up to and during the Games,;
· Supplementary expertise in coaching, science or medical backup: for example, the synchronised swimming team will be able to access the expertise of an internationally renowned choreographer and coach, and the cycling squad will be investing in more soft-tissue therapy support for its BMX and track competitors.
Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: "I am delighted to be able to offer our sports this additional investment [to allow] them to seek out key opportunities to boost their final 100/133 days of preparation, and help give our athletes a winning edge come Games time.
"British athletes are among the best funded and supported in the world, and UK Sport is hugely grateful to the Team 2012 supporters, as well as the National Lottery and our Government, for their incredible support of our ambitions for success at our home Games in London."
Charlie Bethel, British Wheelchair Basketball chief executive, commented: "The Team 2012 presented by Visa programme has enabled our teams to ensure they are fully prepared for the Games in London this year.
"The additional support that we will receive will get us over the line and guarantee that the holding camps will provide both teams with much needed competition against quality countries to warm up against."
"The extra money will also allow the team to purchase equipment such as gun shooting machines used to simulate game situations for shooting and rebound practice, that will hopefully give Team GB the edge in games."
Ian Drake, British Cycling chief executive, commented: "At the final stages of preparations for the Games it is more important than ever that our riders are surrounded by everything they need to get them to the start line in the best possible shape and fully focused on the job in hand.
"Through this additional Team 2012 investment we're able to increase the level of soft-tissue therapy available to our track and BMX riders.
"Our team will also benefit from the tailored rest and recovery package for use at the preparation camp and during Games-time.
"Furthermore, our Paralympic riders will be able to access additional altitude training sessions that have already proved their worth, particularly for the road team."
Tim Jones, British Gymnastics performance director, said: "This [support] will ensure that our pre-Olympic preparation camp plans for our artistic gymnasts can be fulfilled, our trampoline representative in London will have the best competition preparation possible, and our rhythmic gymnasts can be comprehensively supported at their forthcoming European Championships."
David Faulkner, GB Hockey performance director, said: "With our men having no Champions Trophy before the Games, they have taken up an invitation to the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia.
"The women will now be able to complete a tailored leadership programme to complement previous work with the Royal Marines that focused on leadership, teamwork and coping under pressure.
"The decisions to take up these opportunities are fundamental to the two teams' final preparations for London 2012."
David Tanner, British Rowing performance director, remarked: "This [funding] has allowed us to invest in some bio-mechanical equipment which will be of considerable use to our adaptive squad which does not have its own as they train towards this year's Paralympic Games."
Geraint Richards, head of Disability Player Performance at the Tennis Foundation, added: "We are very grateful for the extra funding... for our wheelchair tennis performance team in the run-up to the London 2012 Paralympics.
"We will be using the money towards our match analysis programme and to purchase some protective wheelchair covers to keep the players' chairs in top condition when they travel."
Team 2012 is a joint venture created in 2008 between the four key organisations leading British Olympic and Paralympic sport: UK Sport, British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association and London 2012.
It is the official sponsorship and fundraising programme for the 1,200 British athletes competing across the Olympic and Paralympic sports on UK Sport's World Class Performance Programme – many of whom are striving to be selected for Team GB and ParalympicsGB at London 2012.
To date, almost £18 million ($29 million/€22 million) has been raised through presenting partner, Visa, corporate donors, patrons and ambassadors, "Our Team 2012", a small and medium enterprise programme, and a public appeal.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
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January 2011: News International to get "unrivalled access" to London 2012 Olympians and Paralympians
October 2010: Exclusive - Visa to launch activation programme for London 2012 before Christmas