Crunch day for Sailing Olympic Funding

Tuesday, December 18 is crunch-day for GBR sailing and the other Olympic and Paralympic sports. It is then they will find out what funding they will receive for the next Olympic Games cycle leading to Rio de Janeiro 2016. Since the introduction of Lottery funding via UK Sport, GBR sailing has boomed on the International scene. Ben Ainslie, who recently announced his retirement from Olympic competition, won four gold and a silver during this golden period for British sailing.

In the 2000 Games in Sydney, GBR sailing won three gold and two silver, and over the period of the four Olympics from then until the London 2012 Games, Britain won 20 sailing medals, ten of them gold. In the four Games before 2000 and before the introduction of Lottery funding, GBR sailing won just five medals, only one of them gold.

During the London Games, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that sport funding would be maintained for Rio 2016. UK Sport, the body that distributes money to the Olympic and Paralympic sports, is set to receive £125m per year. The level of funding from the National Lottery will be an estimated £87m per year, with around £40m coming from the Government. Given the recent tight Autmn Budget statement it is not known if the government will be able to keep this promise of no cuts to elite sport funding.

There is also the problem of the medal count. UK Sport has a policy of giving the largest funding to those sports most likely to deliver medals and London 2012 was a "so-so" event for sailing. With just one gold in five podium places for the GBR sailing team, this was a considerable drop from the peak of 2008 with its four golds.

And with more minor sports hoping to maintain their share of funds that were awarded to boost them for London 2012, sailing could take a hit to its large funding following its drop down the gold table.

Sailing received £23.39m in the four years leading up to the London Olympics, up from £22.29m in the four years leading up to the 2008 Beijing Games. Rowing, cycling, swimming and athletics received more than sailing. - GN