By Paul Osborne

Mike Reilly, Goalball UK chief executive, has expressed his disappointment at UK Sport's decision to cut the sport's funding ©Getty ImagesFebruary 5 - Mike Reilly, chief executive of Goalball UK, has admitted he has been left "disappointed" by UK Sport's decision to withdraw the £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.2 million) worth of funding for the Paralympic discipline in the nation.

He claimed the decision was "questionable" following the women's team's performance at London 2012 and that it does not tie in with the feedback given by the organisation.

"We are very disappointed with the decision to stop funding our GB women's team," he wrote in a statement on the national governing body's website.

"In our review process with UK Sport we were given an overall Green Rag Rating.

"We have a new programme, a new head coach/PD (performance director), and were clearly demonstrating good progress in a number of areas.

"Our women just missed out on a medal in London 2012 and were the second most successful competing GB women team sport across both GB Olympic and Paralympic disciplines.

"It hence seems questionable to pull funding now when we have a critical European tournament in September this year where we could compete successfully and maintain a pathway to Rio.

"Both our women's and men [presently not funded] relatively young squads can undoubtedly achieve success on the international stage not least in 2020."

The women's team were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage of London 2012 following a "golden goal" by Sweden ©Getty ImagesThe women's team were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage of London 2012 following a "golden goal" by Sweden ©Getty Images

The British women's goalball team had seen their funding almost quadrupled just 12 months ago following London 2012.

The team, at their first Paralympic Games, came agonisingly close to a place in the semi-finals, losing to eventual bronze medallists Sweden by a "golden goal" in the quarterfinals.

The result convinced UK Sport to invest £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.2 million) in the women's programme, although this funding did not stretch to the men's programme.

However, this decision has now been reversed in this latest investment review - a decision questioned by player Georgina Bullen.

"It's quite heartbreaking and I was gutted when I found out," she told the Cambridge News.

"We tried to prepare ourselves, but we thought that, even though we'd not had great results, a lot of things were coming up green and working well.

"We've only had the funding making a difference for something like six months.

"We've only had these six months working with new people before going to a tournament, and in that time you can't go from zero to hero.

"We can still get to Rio.

"What we need to do now is try to raise funding to get to the European Bs (which take place in Hungary in September).

"If we do well there then there could be a place for us in the Rio qualifiers.

"If we could achieve that then we have an argument to take to UK Sport and ask for funding again.

"We're really going to try to beat some teams there.

"They're not going to just feel the wrath of our usual play, but also the frustration, anger, heartbreak and determination to get funding back that we'll all feel."

Goalball was one of seven sports - the others being wheelchair fencing, visually impaired football, basketball, synchronised swimming, water polo and weightlifting - to lose their funding entirely.

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