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Archived Feature Articles: Team GB 2012

Following on from my previous posts, please find below one of the previous features I wrote very early on. More to follow :

Team GB in demand for London 2012 as economic crisis sparks transfers

The aftermath of the Beijing Olympics in Summer 2008 has put members of Team GB in great demand, as external organisations from countries such as the United States fight to transfer them to their own teams, as the Times reported on November 19th 2008.

The first two to be transferred are said to be Adam Brown, Olympic sprinter, who will be going to Auburn University in Alabama, and Chris Fox, a fellow sprinter. Dennis Pursley, Head Coach for Britain commented: “Ironically, because of the success of Britain in Beijing, we have a situation where US college coaches are keen to recruit some of the kids just at a time when we have good reason to keep them home.”

Ministers have been preaching for years that promotion of the Olympics – through monetary support – is a great incentive to get younger people more active and to encourage competing for their country. However, the allocation to sport for the UK, as announced in the budget in December 2008, appears to show this is no longer a priority to the Government. Unfortunately, allocations are devised on a performance based system. Rowing and sailing will be getting a fifth of the budget, which is to say £50 million between them. Swimming will receive a higher allocation than that of last year, having increased 25.61 percent despite not having reached performance targets. Meanwhile, other sports which would be more accessible to the average young person are being forgotten, a concept met with much criticism. Kenny Barton, performance programme manager commented: “The promise was there that the Government would fund performance sport so that the athletes could commit to the programme. It seems it is only the athletes [who] have fulfilled the commitment.”

18 year old, Darius Knight – avid table tennis competitor – spoke to the Time of his future and plans to compete in 2012 now that funding will be non-existent: “I can’t understand why it has happened, after we have put in so much work to improve our games and get into the top flight… it will not be easy to compete with the Chinese now.”

Lord Mynihan, previous Minister of Sport for the Conservative party, commented in the beginning of December of the future of UK Sport: “We will be deeply disappointed if the Government moves away from their commitment”, and that, “to give our Olympic and Paralympic athletes the best chance of success in 2012, the full investment programme agreed by Gordon Brown when was Chancellor must be honoured in full.”

Brown and Fox’s transference may have sparked criticism among the public as it is seen as helping opposing teams. However, in the light of the recent economic crisis and the knock-on effects this has had to the budgets the Government will be allocating to UK Sport, the moves are not surprising. After all, it is only a handful of the better known athletes who receive pay over £20,000 a year. All those lesser known athletes trying to develop their skill and get paid for doing so have to rely on funding, and at a time when funding is so sparse, sportspeople contemplating transferring globally where they would be financially supported should therefore be forgiven for their supposed ‘insubordination’. After all, it appears it is their country who have wronged.

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