SIR RODNEY WALKER, Chairman of UK Sport, today welcomed Dr Jack Cunningham’s report into the funding of elite sport and promised that his organisation would approach the report’s recommendations with an open mind.
Dr Cunningham’s report was presented to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, this morning and contains a series of recommendations concerning the way forward for elite sport in the UK. The recommendations were compiled by a review group, chaired by Dr Cunningham, which comprised:
- John Anderson - Performance Director, Canoeing
- Brendan Foster - Broadcaster and former athlete
- Peter Keen - Performance Director, Cycling
- Steve Pullen - Paralympic Judo
- Jane Sixsmith - Former Olympic Hockey player
The review was commissioned in the aftermath of the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games last autumn – the first Games where the teams representing Great Britain had enjoyed significant Lottery funding. The Lottery funding programmes run by UK Sport and the home country sports councils are widely believed to have had a significant impact on the successful performances by both teams and the review’s recommendations seek to build on that promising start.
"SYDNEY WAS a watershed for us all and a time to take stock not only of the difference that Lottery funding had made, but also the extent to which the programmes were running effectively and how we could lessen the burden of red tape on the sports we work with", said Sir Rodney.
"I have only had a brief opportunity to examine Dr Cunningham’s recommendations, but as far as I can see they are a constructive set of proposals, designed to keep us moving along the path that we have followed since Sydney. It is important that our funding systems continue to evolve and ever-increasingly focus on the needs of our top athletes and their coaches."
The report also recognised the importance of the UK Sports Institute in delivering services that will support sports in driving their performance programmes forward. Sir Rodney pointed out that this was an area that UK Sport had concentrated on over the last twelve months and had already met with key Olympic and Paralympic sports to determine their needs. A number of programmes covering coaching, medicine and technological innovation had already been launched as a result.
Sir Rodney added that: "We are looking forward to working closely with our partner organisations and the Sports Cabinet to ensure greater coordination for our leading sports."
The Sports Cabinet is set to meet and consider Dr Cunningham’s report and UK Sport’s proposed action plan at the end of October.