To ensure that the UK’s most talented athletes have every chance of realising their full potential, UK Sport has created the World Class Programme.
The World Class Programme covers all funded summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic sports, and operates at two distinct levels:
- Podium - supporting athletes with realistic medal winning capabilities at the next Olympic/Paralympic Games (i.e. a maximum of four years away from the podium)
- Podium Potential – these are athletes whose performances suggest that they have realistic medal winning capabilities at the subsequent Olympic and Paralympic Games (i.e. a maximum of eight years away from the podium)
Around 1,300 of the nation’s leading athletes at the Podium and Podium Potential levels currently benefit from UK Sport’s annual investment of around £100 million annually, with many more involved at the Performance Foundation level and supported by the Home Country Sports Councils. The Programme works by ensuring that athletes get the world class support – delivered through their sport’s national governing body – that they need at every stage of their development.
Having run the Programme since 1997 and with the benefit of lessons learned at Olympic and Paralympic games, UK Sport pioneered and refined a targeted approach, which ultimately means taking no shortcuts in giving the best athletes the right support to enable them to realise their full medal winning potential.
Funding is delivered in two ways:
Investing in the sport’s governing body to support Podium and Podium Potential level athletes with an array of world class services. These include coaching, training, and competition support, medical, technology and scientific services delivered by the Home Country Institutes and access to the best facilities that the UK and the World have to offer.
In addition, recognising that succeeding in Olympic and Paralympic sports effectively means a full-time commitment on behalf of athletes, UK Sport makes a contribution towards living and sporting costs via a National Lottery funded Athlete Performance Award.