Eleven of 12 of Britain’s summer Olympic sports met or exceeded their performance targets this year, according to figures from UK Sport, the Government funding agency, released today.
And of ten sports competing at world championship level this summer, British teams won medals at eight while six produced world champions in Olympic disciplines.
Liz Nicholl, Director of Performance at UK Sport, said:
“In a year when British sport is perceived to be lacking success stories, our summer Olympic sports have shown the way. Six out of ten sports producing world champions in Olympic disciplines is a welcome and positive return, and we congratulate the individual athletes for whom it represents a high point in their careers.
“Beijing 2008 remains a considerable challenge and we shouldn’t read too much into this summer’s performances with respect to the Games in two years’ time, but the range of sports delivering at their season’s major events is very encouraging, as is the number of ‘new faces’ coming home with championship medals.”
UK Sport has full responsibility for high-performance sport through Britain and Northern Ireland, and has set the various sports annual targets as stepping stones towards the London 2012 Olympics.
But not all the national governing bodies funded under UK Sport’s schemes had targets in place this year. Others, such as athletics, appear to be in a deep trough of under-achievement – despite some successes at the Commonwealth Games and August’s European championships, for the first time in 14 years, not a single British track and field athlete has been shortlisted for consideration in a poll for the European athlete of the year.
UK Sport speaks about ensuring that “the increased funds being invested in pursuit of success are being handled by well run, fit for purpose governing bodies”.
Nicholl said: “The improvements we have seen in a number of governing bodies since this April prove that London 2012 is acting as a true modernising force.
“Six months after making our funding awards, we are only looking at a couple of sports that still have major issues and we are making great strides towards seeing them resolved, including the setting up of special one-off bodies where appropriate to handle Olympic focused investment.”
UK Sport is hosting its annual high performance seminar at The Belfrey in two weeks’ time, to be attended by 400 delegates.