By Karim Bashir - 22 January 2009
The dust has settled since UK Sport announced the funding allocation for the Olympic and Paralympic sports that hadn’t been told what funding they were getting for the London cycle last year. 

It’s clear that some sports have suffered from the £50 million shortfall in elite sport funding but no one seems to be prepared to say that there has been an increase in the overall funding for Olympic and Paralympic sport; nine per cent for Olympic sports and a whacking 218 per cent for Paralympic sports.


This isn’t as much as Gordon Brown promised in 2006 when he was Chancellor but the world is a different place now. Job losses, businesses failing, the Government bail out of the banking and motor industries all point to difficult times ahead. Anyone that thinks that sport shouldn’t carry some of the burden isn’t living in the real world. Things would be a lot worse had the Government decided not to allocate £50 million additional funding.

So who are the winners and losers?

Let’s start with the losers:
* Ten Olympic sports face a cut from the previous funding cycle; highest cut to lowest: shooting, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing, volleyball, water polo, table tennis, handball, athletics and badminton. All other Olympic sports plus every Paralympic sport will benefit from increased funding.

* UK Sport seem to be taking a huge amount of criticism even though they are not a fund raising organisation! They are tasked with delivering medal winning performances at the elite level and the results in Beijing show that they are clearly on the right path. Yet they seem to have been put in the firing line of those who evidently don’t understand sports funding or who chose not to because they have to sell newspapers.

* The athletes who will lose their Lottery grants. These are the people who have put their life on hold to pursue the Olympic dream and were promised four years of funding. Now they have been left dangling with no support whatsoever.

The winners:
* Those sports that have rolled with the punches and embraced change. Cycling has never been a sport which has been hugely televised and the same can be said for swimming and sailing. Yet these sports have brought in great people who have dragged the sports into the 21st century, making them attractive to sponsors and utilising their top performers in a creative way which hasn’t impacted on the time they need to spend training.

* Every other Olympic and Paralympic sport! This may be hard to swallow for those sports that face a notional 50 per cent cut in funding but the truth is that if Sebastian Coe and his team hadn’t won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games no one would be talking about sports funding.

How do we move forward? To start with we all need to accept the situation as it is. A sports person who trains for a major championship and fails to deliver can either train even harder for the next event or give up. Sports need to do the same. Those sports that have been slow or reluctant to adopt UK Sport’s “no compromise” approach must act now and modernise. It is clear that there hasn’t been a better (or cheaper!) time for sponsors to get involved in sport. Not only can they claim to have “saved” the 12 sports that have reduced funding but they can also take advantage of the depressed marketplace. Furthermore, with 2012 around the corner sponsoring individuals in exclusive arrangements will provide athletes with much needed support at the same time as allowing UK businesses to associate themselves with excellence; thus differentiating them from their competition.

Karim Bashir is a former British international fencer who is the founder and managing director of Catch Sport, an online sponsorship brokering service which is free to use for athletes from all sports. More details on

Click here to tell the world!

British sport has never had it so good? Trying tell that to the
handball and volleyball players recruited to take part in London
2012 by UK Sport, who gave up their jobs but now because of the
funding decisions of the same organisation find themselves on the
breadline and the prospect of not even being able to take part in
London 2012. I don't expect they are feeling particularly happy
at the moment, Mr Bashir.
By Janet Tomkins
11 March 2009 at 16:10pm