The announcement of £9.4m of new money to support the nation’s top athletes and their coaches in their efforts to build on the success of the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics was today welcomed by UK Sport – the nation’s agency for the development of sporting excellence.
There will also be an additional £4.7m for the fight to keep sport drug-free.
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has made the money available as part of the Government’s 'Exchequer’ funding settlement for UK Sport. The bulk of the cash – to be spread over two years between 2004 and 2006 - will be targeted at implementing recommendations contained in Jack Cunningham’s Elite Sport Review, which he delivered in September 2001.
UK Sport’s Chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, was delighted with the news.
"Ultimately the Secretary of State’s announcement is good news for our top athletes and their coaches, and it’s also a vote of confidence in UK Sport’s ability to deliver sporting excellence," he said.
"The additional funding for our drug-free sport activity will help to secure a significant increase in the amount of tests we can make available to sport, increasing public confidence that our athletes choose to compete drug-free.
"What we must now do is consider how best we can implement the recommendations produced by Dr Cunningham to produce significant added value for everyone involved within the World Class Performance Programme."
In her announcement, Tessa Jowell specified that the additional funds should be targeted specifically at the Elite Sport’s Review recommendations to:
- Produce a single basic 'living costs’ award for all athletes on the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP)
- Invest in WCPP athletes’ personal coaches
- Deliver an enhanced professional development programme for elite coaches
- Establish a scholarship programme for existing and potential World Class coaches and sports science service deliverers to extend their ability to work at elite level
- Extend the athlete medical scheme.
The Government also renewed its commitment to maintaining funding for UK Sport’s World Class Performance Programme at £25m per year up to the Athens Olympics, indicating that it would meet any shortfall in Lottery income should it materialise.
In announcing the extra resources, Tessa Jowell said: "The Cunningham Review highlighted the need for more resources to support our elite athletes.
"This cash will remove some of the iniquities of the present system and enable athletes and coaches to concentrate on reaching the peak of their performance."
Speaking from the Belfry, where the UK Sports Institute is hosting the 2002 World Class Coaching Conference, Richard Callicott, UK Sport’s Chief Executive, was well-placed to gauge the reaction to the news from the elite sport community.
"It is particularly appropriate that the Secretary of State has chosen to make this announcement at a time when the majority of the nation’s high performance coaches are gathered together at this year’s UK Sports Institute sponsored World Class Coaching Conference," Callicott said.
"The announcement will be a great boost to all those who are currently developing their final plans for delivering success in Athens in 2004."