sport

Funding reprieve for basketball

British Basketball's campaign to have its Olympic funding restored resulted in success today as UK Sport agreed to a reprieve.

The sport will now be able to run an elite programme targeted at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The exact funding has yet to be determined but it will run to several millions of pounds.

Basketball received 8.6million in the four years before London 2012 but in December it was announced by UK Sport that all funding would cease.

Wheelchair fencing has also been successful in an appeal - both sports' awards will be on a one-year conditional basis with the next three years' funding released only if they meet strict performance criteria.

Table tennis, indoor volleyball, sitting volleyball and wrestling will still receive zero funding despite pleas for a re-think.

British Basketball mobilised its most famous player, Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng, to write to Prime Minister David Cameron pleading for funding to be restored.

The sport's performance chairman Roger Moreland said: "We are absolutely delighted with the decision of UK Sport today.

"They have acknowledged that we successfully presented compelling new performance data, which not only impressed the Board but made them recognise that we are potential podium contenders for 2020.

"They could see from our evidence and that supplied by Patrick Baumann from our international federation (FIBA) that our sport has an upward trajectory in terms of both performance and participation.

"This is a momentous day for British basketball and everyone who is connected with the sports, whether players, fans or officials."

Baumann, secretary general of FIBA, said: "I am thrilled for British basketball and UK Sport's recognition and appreciation of the very strong case we presented. The new funding will allow the sport to build on the progress and growth it has already made in a very short time and aim for a podium place in 2020."

UK Sport will also look again at the award it has made to women's beach volleyball, to provide more support for the one pair that already receive some funding.

Weightlifting and powerlifting had also appealed for a funding increase but that was rejected.

Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of the UK Sport Board, said: "I appreciate this has been, and continues to be, a very difficult time for those sports and athletes with no funding.

"We want to make it clear that we do not consider any of the non-funded sports to have failed. In fact most have made significant progress within this unique period whereby they were funded exceptionally given it was a home Games.

"Our decisions have been made on the detailed assessment of a sport's future potential for medal success in Rio 2016 or 2020.

"These are tough decisions that the board have to make to ensure our resources are focused on supporting every credible medal opportunity for the 2016 or 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

For those involved in indoor and sitting volleyball, UK Sport's decision to confirm zero funding was met with anger and frustration.

Lucy Wicks, the setter for the British Olympic team currently playing professionally in Germany, wrote on Twitter: "wow they hate volleyball. Can't say I'm shocked. No support from you [UK Sport] for years."

She added: "I'm seriously considering staying in Germany forever, it's a much better place for team sports".

Britain's women's captain Lynn Beattie, who led her side to a first-ever win over Algeria at the London Games, said: "I've just found out and I'm absolutely devastated."

Ashley Trodden, Great Britain sitting volleyball assistant coach, said on Twitter: "So we are the only Paralympic sport not to get funding, thats a big kick in the teeth."

Kenny Barton, British Volleyball's performance director, said the body would now be forced to withdraw teams from the world championships.

He said: "I predicted this would happen and we will now be seeking legal advice.

"We will now have to withdraw from the world championship and probably get fined for that as well.

"As things stand I'm the last man in the office and will probably have to turn the lights out.

"They cut the head off the chicken with this and I am disappointed for British sport, not just volleyball.

"Under no circumstances did we fail. I think we were used to sell tickets as part of Team GB, making sure they got the crowds in.

"Our players can play overseas but with no national programme. It's ridiculous and I call on everyone who enjoyed volleyball to speak up."