altMarch 13 - British Volleyball has axed Lorne Sawula (pictured), the coach of its women's team, because of a cut in funding it has received from UK Sport to prepare for the London 2012 Olympics.


The Canadian had been in position for only two years but oversee a vast improvement in standards as Britain's women seek to compete in the Olympics for the first time.


British Volleyball has been forced to let him go after they had their funding from UK Sport cut from £4.3 million to £2.2 million.


They are the second sport forced to make difficult decisions.


Last month British Shooting made John Leighton-Dyson, its performance director, redundant after they suffered a 78 per cent cut in funding.


Richard Callicott, the president of the British Volleyball Federation (BVF), warned that the cuts could lead to consequences that will seriously hamper preparations for 2012.

He said: "We owe a great deal to Dr Lorne Sawula one of world volleyball's recognised authorities in coaching for how he has progressed our women and I am particularly grateful while he might have had other jobs to go to two years ago, as a Canadian he felt a special place for the first ever GB team and joined us.
"However, such quality and progress seems to have counted for nothing to UK Sport or their advisors in their mean assessment of what British Volleyball across its indoor, beach and paralympic disciplines need to make the GB Public proud of the players we are proud of especially when they have come so far so quickly."
Sawula warned British authorities that the sport faced an uphill struggle without sufficient funding.
He said: "It will take the extra support of the volleyball community to turn all these hopes and dreams into reality.
"Anything less leaves very little in the legacy pot and British Volleyball all want the international world to know what they are capable of achieving.
"This, I hope will drive everyone to stay supporters, look forward positively, find solutions rather than problems and then continue confidently beyond 2012."

altSawula’s assistant coach, Britain's first ever Olympic volleyball player in the 1996 Games, Audrey Cooper (pictured), a Scot, who played in the tournament in Atlanta takes over as head coach.
She said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the GB women’s indoor volleyball programme and build on the outstanding progress over the last two years.  
"We have a committed and gifted group of athletes, who along with myself and an excellent team of support staff are determined to achieve our goals in London 2012.  
"The funding crisis is one of many challenges we will no doubt face along this exciting and rewarding journey.  
"The dream is still very much alive and with the support and tenacity of our Board, together we will succeed.”
The British team are continuing preparations for this summer’s European League matches when the men play their second campaign and the women make their maiden voyage with Cooper at the helm.