sport

British basketball's nervy wait

British Basketball faces a nervous wait to hear next week's decision on its Olympic funding after the sport missed key performance targets.

UK Sport, the body which awards public and Lottery money to elite sport, will meet on Friday to make the funding decisions with an announcement on Tuesday.

Basketball is the most at risk - it was initially handed zero funding but won an appeal last year to be awarded 7million over four years - but with the final three years' money conditional on meeting "strict performance criteria".

Roger Moreland, performance chairman of British Basketball, said many of the criteria had been met but conceded both men's and women's teams fell short of the target of qualifying for the world championships. He also insists that it should be recognised the sport has made huge strides at elite level.

He said: "In football terms, what we have achieved is going from League Two to the Champions League in the space of seven years. That is an enormous performance leap.

"Yes, we did not qualify for the world championships which was the target for last year, but you can either take a snap-shot based on one year or look at other progress being made over time.

"I would be foolish if I said there was not nervousness but UK Sport has shown belief in where we can go."

Moreland believes advances at youth level mean there is a very real prospect of British teams challenging for a medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Basketball has also seen big rises in participation at grass-roots level to the point where it is the second most popular team sport after football. Although that will not be part of UK Sport's decision-making, Moreland said it was important to "paint the whole picture".

The sport's pitch for continued funding pointed out both men's and women's sides are now ranked in top 25 in world and top 12 in Europe, compared to being outside the top 75 in 2008.

British Basketball has also numerous statistics to show a new "golden generation" of young players now emerging, which should peak at Tokyo 2020.

The initial decision to cut the sport off from funding completely sparked a major campaign for a reprieve, including an online petition to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport which attracted a record number of signatures.

British NBA star Luol Deng added his significant weight to the campaign by personally writing to Prime Minister David Cameron asking for a change in the decision.

UK Sport will also make a decision on funding for wheelchair fencing, which had been given the same terms as basketball. The Paralympic sport was awarded just over 1million on appeal, but with one year only up front and the remaining three on a conditional basis.