UK Sport is making every penny count

From John Steele, chief executive, UK Sport

The end of one year and the start of another is always a good time to step back and reflect on what has been achieved over the past 12 months and what challenges lie ahead in the coming year. In doing so, what immediately becomes apparent is how much has happened, is happening and will happen, with the level of activity no doubt intensified by the home Games factor.

2009 began and ended in the same way, with UK Sport making important decisions around investment in our Olympic and Paralympic sports. Our targets for 2012 are ambitious and we need to ensure that every penny at our disposal counts. We take a no-compromise approach in order to maximise medal success but equally want to ensure all sports can achieve their ambitions in London. This is not always easy in a difficult economic climate, but boosted by Visa’s involvement in Team 2012, and with the continued support we receive from Government and the National Lottery, we ended the year by providing the financial certainty our sports need to build momentum as London edges ever nearer.

That momentum has shown itself in the exceptional medal hauls achieved this year. The post-Games period can often be a time of consolidation, and with it not necessarily the best in terms of performance. However, this year that trend has been bucked in spectacular fashion with 43 medals won at World and European level in Olympic disciplines and 149 in Paralympic.

Continuing that progress won’t be easy in 2010. Economic challenges remain and sport cannot operate in a bubble from these. Furthermore, a likely election will bring the political landscape more into the spotlight. Then, of course, is the unpredictable nature of sport ” you never quite know what it’s going to throw your way but one thing we can be sure of is that our competitors will be seeking to up their game so we must ensure we continue to do the same.

However we enter 2010 in great shape and the expertise, determination and sheer quality we have throughout the high performance system in the UK provides me with huge confidence going forward. I’m immensely looking forward to the year ahead, opening with the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver which I’m sure will get us off to an excellent start.

Best wishes for 2010 from all at UK Sport.

□ UK Sport is the longest standing lead sponsor of the Sports Journalists’ Association, with a partnership that goes back more than a decade. Sky Bet is the SJA’s newest partner, the sponsorship being announced in October 2008.

Both partners support the SJA’s two prestigious annual awards events, including the presentation of a special UK Sport Award for excellence at the SJA’s British Sports Awards and the sports betting writer of the year at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards.

The SJA Annual Sports Awards are the longest established of their kind in the United Kingdom, having been first staged in 1949.

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