Olympics cash blow for basketball

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: British Basketball has been stripped of all Olympic funding British Basketball has been stripped of all Olympic funding

British Basketball has been stripped of all Olympic funding after failing to meet its targets, UK Sport has announced.

The sport had won a reprieve last year but neither the men's nor women's team succeeded in meeting the target of qualifying for the world championships.

Funding has also been withdrawn from synchronised swimming, water polo and weightlifting while a number of sports have had their funding increased.

Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: "This is a very significant point on our journey to Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

"While there is a clear understanding now that our investment is based on merit and must be aligned behind our best medal prospects, it doesn't make the decisions any easier and I recognise it is a difficult time for the sports and athletes who have been withdrawn from funding.

"To continue funding sports where the evidence is telling us they cannot win a medal by 2020 would be a high risk strategy that compromises opportunities elsewhere."

British Basketball claimed UK Sport's system has a "bias" against team sports and that the decision will leave everyone involved in the sport "aghast".

British Basketball's performance chairman Roger Moreland said: "The basketball community at home and abroad will be aghast that this can happen again. It seems every barrier to progress for basketball originates in Britain; the very country that should be embracing the progress its basketball teams have achieved.

"UK Sport decided not to fund basketball in December 2012 and have done so again. As we asked then, we ask again - what price a legacy from 2012?"

A statement from the sport added: "The UK Sport funding system can clearly deliver medals, but it appears to show bias against team and emerging sports. Basketball falls into both categories."

Moreland has argued that the growth in participation numbers of the sport, and the fact it is attracting so many young people, should have been recognised.

The statement added: "How can a system abandon a sport where 70 per cent of the participants are under the age of 25 and where around 50 per cent of those that play come from BME [black and minority ethnic] communities?"

The decision was also blasted by the British men's team captain Drew Sullivan, who said on Twitter: "Desperately disappointed with [the] decision. They've clearly decided that medals are more important than legacy and our countries youth."

The decision comes after the men's team were on Tuesday handed a draw for the EuroBasket qualifiers that made them favourites to top their group.

Moreland added: "We are still on the road to Rio but we now have to qualify for EuroBasket 2015 with our hands tied behind our back."

Several sports have been given an increase in funding with the big winner being triathlon, whose money goes up from £5.5million to £7.5million, a 36 per cent increase. Others with increased funding include canoeing, fencing, gymnastics, hockey, judo, sailing, shooting and taekwondo.

Sports whose funding has been reduced are swimming and badminton, while all others sports' money remains the same.

In Paralympic sport, funding has been withdrawn from five-a-side football, goalball and wheelchair fencing, while para-canoe has received the biggest increase.

British Swimming said the decision to withdraw funding from women's water polo and synchronised swimming threatens their very future as Olympic sports.

British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes said: "It is an extremely dark day for women's sport in this country as today's announcement could well signal the death of these historic Olympic sports in Britain.

"The decision flies in the face of the massive legacy impact afforded by the investment previously and successfully made in these sports within the London cycle and beyond.

"We will now carefully look at our options and, in due course, may well consider a more formal appeal over these devastating decisions."

Twelve months ago both sports were awarded increased funding for the Rio Olympic cycle (2013-17) of £4.54million for women's water polo and £4.34million for synchronised swimming.

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