Rebekah Tiler has given up weightlifting after funding was cut ©Getty Images

Rebekah Tiler, Britain's best weightlifting prospect in decades who topped the world youth rankings and competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a 17-year-old, has given up the sport after a protracted dispute over funding.

Tiler is still a teenager - she will be 20 next January - and a disappointed Ashley Metcalfe, chief executive of British Weight Lifting, said: "We're losing an outstanding individual who had a lot more to prove and a lot more to achieve."

Tiler wrote to Metcalfe this week to say she had quit, 15 months after UK Sport announced that it had cut off its £275,000 ($366,000/€313,000) a-year funding of Britain's elite squad.

Badminton, archery and fencing also lost funding as UK Sport focused on the Olympic sports in which Britain was deemed to have the best chance of winning medals.

Metcalfe called for a rethink of the British Government's "no compromise, only multiple medals matter" approach to funding, via UK Sport.

"Every Olympic and Paralympic sport matters and should be supported to give a basic world-class framework that will allow athletes to try to achieve their goals," he told insidethegames.

"If it had been somebody in cycling for example, a young Chris Hoy, everybody would have said, 'brilliant, we must support this person'.

"Weightlifting does not have the same track record or historic results to gain support, and despite much-improved international results over the past four years, in certain corridors they don't recognise us as a sport that can deliver.

"I hope the Government will look at things in a different manner."

Britain has won only one Olympic weightlifting medal in half a century, David Mercer's bronze in Los Angeles in 1984.

The world's most populous nations are all strong in weightlifting, which, unlike the sports that get most of the Government's money, is truly global.

Rebekah Tiler lifts at the Samoa 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games ©Getty Images
Rebekah Tiler lifts at the Samoa 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games ©Getty Images

China and Russia barely figure in cycling and rowing, both of which are funded even higher than athletics at around £7.5 million ($9.9 million/€8.5 million) a year.

UK Sport's decision left Tiler without her small but significant annual grant, believed to be about £12,000 ($16,000/€14,000).

Tiler and her parents blamed the federation, rather than UK Sport's policy, and they have criticised British Weightlifting on social media.

Tiler boycotted her National Championships last year, trained irregularly and competed only twice since the funding decision was announced, failing to win a medal at the European Championships and finishing second at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Junior World Championships.

None of her performances matched those of 2016, and that junior performance in Tokyo last June was Tiler's final competitive appearance.

She first came to prominence as a 14-year-old, winning Commonwealth youth and junior titles, and finished fourth for England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when she was 15.

Tiler, from Yorkshire, finished second to Rio 2016 medallist Sara Ahmed, of Egypt, in the 2015 IWF Youth World Championships and competed in Houston later that year at the senior IWF World Championships.

Her sponsors by now included a local butcher, who gave her all the meat she could eat.

Tiler reached a new peak in 2016 when she took a European Championships bronze - her first senior medal - finished 10th in Rio and second at the Youth World Championships.

She ended that year, when she still had funding, on top of the world youth rankings at her preferred weight class of 69 kilograms.

Tiler has moved into powerlifting, coached by her boyfriend.

She will enter her first competition later this year and said: "Hopefully I can break some records in powerlifting too."

British weightlifting hopes could now rest with the likes of Zoe Smith ©Getty Images
British weightlifting hopes could now rest with the likes of Zoe Smith ©Getty Images

But on the subject of her loss of funding and her relationship with British Weightlifting, Tiler said: "I’d rather not talk about it - it's a long, long story."

Metcalfe said: "We were there to try to support Rebekah, and encourage her to achieve her ambitions but it has been a very difficult period for her personally.

"She wrote to us this week to say she has given up weightlifting for good, which is sad, but the door remains open."

Britain still has strong competitiors in its women's team.

Emily Godley won gold at 75kg in the Commonwealth Games, Zoe Smith and Sarah Davies took silver at 63kg and 69kg and Emily Campbell a bronze in the super-heavyweights - all for England.

All four are in the top five of the current world rankings and even though the lists are distorted by the absence of so many suspended lifters, Britain's "up-and-coming female squad is performing well and remains competitive", said Metcalfe.

"We have started to have a bit of depth to our squad," he said.

UK Sport launches a public consultation for its Paris 2024 funding programme in London on Monday (June 4), allowing "the public, media, politicians and stakeholders the chance to have their say and influence the strategy for high performance sport in the UK".