By Mike Rowbottom

Nathan_Robertson_Delhi_October_2010December 10 - GB Badminton today revealed its determination to be back challenging for podium places despite suffering a decrease in funding in UK Sport's Annual Investment Review.

The confirmation of award over the final two years of the current cycle reflects a reduction in the number of Podium funded athlete places from 11 to six.

However, the outcome was positive in its support for future potential with an increase in the number of Development funded places from 23 to 24.

The £541,700 ($858,207) reduction in funding over the final two years of the current programme – from £7,970,600 ($12,627,692) to £7,428,900 ($11,769,486) - equates to a 14 per cent decrease.

Adrian Christy, GB Badminton's chief executive, accepts the cuts are a consequence of being in a results-driven environment, evidenced by failure to get a GB player or pair into the quarter-finals at the World championships in August.

But Christy is now determined that GB Badminton builds on the three bronze medals England won at the European Individual Championships this year and the five medals achieved by England at the Commonwealth Games.

As well as targeting podium places in 2012, he plans to develop the medal potential of the players who can make an impact in 2016.

To that end a strategic review of the 2012 and 2016 programmes is under way and is due to be presented in March, ahead of the start of the year-long Olympic qualification programme for London 2012.

He said: "While the outcome of the investment review is disappointing, we believe it is a fair reflection on recent world level performances overall.

"Of course we all hope we can maximise qualification in 2012 and deliver medal performances but we are also aware of the critical opportunity to focus this investment on the future and the group of tremendous young talent we have.

"We will therefore target our resources exclusively on medal potential for 2012, and those where the London Games will be a fabulous learning experience as they look for podium places in 2016.

"We have recognised the need to act now to lay the right foundations for the future and are delighted UK Sport has reiterated its belief in our 2016 potential – as demonstrated by the increased number of player places available on the Development level of the programme – and we are taking action now to ensure that this potential is realised."

Vikki McPhersonVikki McPherson (pictured), head of GB Performance, said: "Managing the reduction in funding will inevitably be challenging in the short term, but the number of funded athlete places offered at the Podium and Development level are consistent with our performance potential.

"It is now our responsibility to ask ourselves the hard questions to ensure that we prioritise the resources we have available to achieve that potential in 2012 and build the right programme going forward to identify and support the players who will deliver in 2016."

Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: "The decisions we have made are difficult but are consistent with badminton's current performance and future potential.

"Although there is an overall reduction in funding we do believe that the future of badminton can be a bright one.

"The sport has a real opportunity to refocus, develop talented athletes and achieve international success in the future and we are hopeful that they will do this."

For 2012, GB Badminton has also decided that in order to maximise the opportunity of its two most experienced and successful senior players, Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark will no longer play men's doubles together so as to concentrate on one discipline.

Robertson will focus on his successful partnership with Jenny Wallwork in mixed doubles while Clark will now forge a new men's doubles partnership with Chris Langridge.

GB coaches have already put in place other new pairings ready for the start of the year-long Olympic qualification period.

The rise of Rajiv Ouseph into the world's top 20 in men's singles reflects his potential for both 2012 and 2016 while Elizabeth Cann's improvement to be the top-ranked GB singles player illustrates the rapid impact new singles coach Kenneth Jonassen has had since his arrival in the summer.

Of the new crop of young players, 18-year-old Sarah Milne, the only European semi-finalist at the Youth Olympic Games, already stands out as a future prospect, along with 17-year-old Kirsty Gilmour, who has already played at senior international level in this year's European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
December 2010: Hockey winner, badminton loser latest in UK Sport funding review