By John Steele - 13 March 2009



The end of March signals the end of UK Sport’s Beijing cycle of investment and the beginning of the new Olympiad that takes us through to London 2012. The investment of the past four years has born incredible fruit, with the amazing Olympic and Paralympic success of Beijing accompanied by a shift in attitude and approach across the elite sports landscape.    
A greater sense of responsibility and professionalism is entering into many of our sports, in the way that they are run as well as the way in which their athletes and coaches prepare, train and compete.
That shift is necessary and the momentum can’t be lost. Through UK Sport’s Mission 2012 programme we help sports deliver that change in three dimensions - their athlete performance but also their governance and the overall climate in their sport - the intangible but vital ‘mood in the camp.’
The evidence of this change also drives our ‘no compromise’ investment strategy. We absolutely believe in rewarding success, and with a fixed sum for investment those funding decisions are always going to be relative.
The best route to ensuring that Beijing’s success is exceeded in London, and then repeated in Games to come, is to focus attention and investment on those sports and athletes that are demonstrably succeeding, with performance evidence to back up claims of progress. The days when a sport believes it had a right to funding merely because it exists, or that decisions are made for anything other than meritocratic and objective reasons, are long gone. Most sports understand that – and those that don’t need to understand the realities of the world we all inhabit.
This is even more the case because of the changing world around us. None of us have escaped the economic recession, and we can all point to ways in which it has impacted our plans and ambitions. For elite sport, it is tough - by comparison even to as recently as 2006, the world is a very different place.   While commercial funding is available - look at the excellent deal just achieved by British Swimming - there are no guarantees. I strongly believe that the new Team 2012 fundraising Partnership we have announced with London 2012 and the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations gives us the best possible route to raising commercial funding in the next four years.
But despite this difficult economic background, when so many other industries are suffering badly, we are in good shape. There is record investment going in to our Olympic and Paralympic sports for London from the public purse and National Lottery. I know that the rest of the world is looking with envy at the funds we have available.  And as with Beijing we are making calls on that money to maximise its impact.
For months now the talk has been about money and whether we have enough. My view as we enter the new Olympiad is that it is time for that talking to stop.  We have made decisions, which while tough for some are absolutely fair and right ones to ensure we meet our medal ambitions in 2012. Not to have invested in them, spreading the total pot more thinly, would have been a compromise, and I am very comfortable we did not take that route.
Now we have to get on to the business of delivery, of driving change and leading the charge to success on the world stage.   
It is time to stop talking about what we do not have, and focus instead on what we are going to do with what we have.


John Steele is the chief executive of UK Sport



As you say we have to move on but I can't understand why, when
Beach Volleyball, in particular, has reached or exceeded all its
performance targets and the Sporting Giants initiative is
producing outstanding talent, the proverbial rug is being pulled.
By Dave

13 March 2009 at 15:28pm

Mr Steele, you are talking rubbish. UK Sport encouraged tens of
young handball, volleyball and water polo players to believe that
they had the unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of competing
in the Olympic Games only to renege on your promise. UK Sport and
the Government ought to be ashamed of themselves. They have
ruined the dreams of a generation.
By Disillusioned handball fan

13 March 2009 at 20:12pm

Surely enough public money has already been wasted on the
Olympics without even more being thrown after handball,
volleyball and water polo players who will be out of their depth
(no pun intended) in 2012? A cap has to be imposed somewhere.
Dare I suggest that £304 million is already quite generous
By Taxpayer

13 March 2009 at 20:40pm

I think the thing to remember here is that the finding from UK
Sport covers elite end and there has been a substantial amount of
money distributed through Sport England too. A commitment of
£480m no less which did give volleyball (£5.6m) and handball
(£645,000) the opportunity to develop more players at a
participation level. There is a case to say the more players
going in through Sport England initiatives will come out at the
elite end anyway and surely UK Sport have made the right
decisions to fund the sports they have.

To establish a sport competitive on the international stage in 4
years is ambitious but until we have a participation programme
underpinning handball, the money at the elite end can be spent
better elsewhere. We cannot simply 'build' handballers for each
Olympic cycle without developing the sport at a participation
level to cultivate the next generation of players, it doesn’t
make sense.

16 March 2009 at 10:26am

Whilst I agree with most of what you are saying my daughter has
just received her new funding agreement. Are you really asking
for her image rights so that you can try to raise money? Surely
all the top athletes will refuse to sign this devaluing your fund
raising scheme. Team 2012 need to have a re-think!
By Athlete Parent

18 March 2009 at 08:38am

It is so disappointing that someone who occupies John Steele's
lofty position in British sport does not appear to  understand
that what he refers to as  'minor' sports  are major team sports
throughout the world, and are blue riband events within the
Olympic Games. These sports who have had their funding cut so
that extra monies can be allocated to sports already cash rich
must be sickened by the attitude by those at the top of British
Sport, who do not really seem to address or even appreciate the
issue of how to grasp the challenge of getting British team
sports to a position where they compete well in true global
By Major world game enthusiast

19 March 2009 at 09:43am

I totally understand  John’s issue about wise investment into
Olympic and Paralympic sports However he does sport a disservice
when he chooses to criticise those sports  who have successfully
delivered against their criteria set by UKSport themselves then
uses that information seemingly as a justification for not
funding them.

Volleyball is one such sport who did well against UK Sports
Mission 2012 Traffic Lights system and worked throughout,with
UKSport officers. There does appear  to be a lack of transparency
and correlation in their decisions  making.

The real point here is that UK NGBs and their
athletes/coaches/officials and administrators are working non
stop to build programmes whereby the Great British public will be
proud to both support and take pride in their efforts and
achievements in London 2012.It is probably the only time the
Games will be held in the UK during our lifetimes and for perhaps
a generation to come.The promises made in Singapore are part of
the reason for their motivation and determination.

I fully understand the argument about funding and the Governments
decision which is not the fault of UKSport itself.

I am hopeful and even confident that together UK Sport and DCMS,
BOA, BPA and LOCOG will raise monies to enable those sports who
have had their funding cut to be able to prepare as a Host nation
should prepare.
By Richard Callicott, President British Volleyball Federation

20 March 2009 at 13:40pm