November 1 - Olympic gold medallist Mark Lewis-Francis (pictured) has threatened to quit athletics before the London 2012 Olympics after his National Lottery funding was cut by UK Athletics.

The 27-year-old sprinter from Birmingham, coached by 1992 Olympic 100 metres champion Linford Christie, was informed last week that he would not be receiving funding for 2010 after two injury-ravaged years.

Lewis-Francis told The Sunday Mercury: "I've been scratching my head about it to be honest, wondering whether I can carry on.

"It looks like they’ve retired me because I’m not sure how I can go on from here."

Lewis-Francis was once tipped as a future world record holder and Olympic 100m champion but has never fulfilled his potential.

The highlight of his career was anchoring Britain's 4x100m relay team to victory at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

He missed the Olympics in Beijing after having an operation on his Achilles tendon and failed to qualify for the World Championships in Berlin this year.

Lewis-Francis said: “I’ve struggled with injuries, but it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t make the Olympics last year.

"The surgeon said it was out of the question and that was that.

"I love this sport and have given it everything, but I've been unlucky with injuries over the last few years.

"But I know I can still get to the top if I’m given the chance."

Lewis-Francis was receiving £30,000 a year as a National Lottery supported athlete but will receive nothing next year.

He said: "It was a big shock to the system.

"I'm surprised they haven’t left me some sort of lifeline and have cut me off completely.

"Not even having a medical is a big deal for athletes like me who have had injuries.

"What is difficult to deal with is the fact they are no longer willing to support me.

"That hurts and I have to prioritise my two children now and their lives."

Lewis-Francis has had to live with claims that he is lazy and has relied for too long on his natural talent.

He said: "It really hurts me when people question my commitment to this sport.

"I have never given anything other than 100 per cent.

"If they don’t believe me, I'd challenge any of them to come down and train with me for a week and then see how lazy I am.

"Right now I have to take stock and think of my family.

"I have a job with the Youth Sport Trust which I enjoy doing and will help for a while, but it is expensive living in London.

"I only ever came down here to be a success in my career in the first place.

"But I’m still only 27 and believe I can still win top medals in the major championships."

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