British Basketball Gets Olympic Funding After Appeal; Wheelchair Fencing Also Successful
British Basketball has "received a funding reprieve in the wake of a high-profile campaign against UK Sport's decision to axe its Olympic programme," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. In January, the funding agency said that the sport "had not done enough to prove it could win a medal at the 2016 or 2020 Olympics" and would lose its £8.5M ($13.4M) backing. Six governing bodies "made informal presentations to the UK Sport board on Wednesday in an effort to overturn funding decisions announced in December." Only basketball and wheelchair fencing have proved successful after presenting "new and compelling performance information" that impressed the board members. Basketball and wheelchair fencing "will receive one year's funding," with the rest conditional on the fulfilment of "strict performance criteria." British Basketball Chair Roger Moreland said that the Int'l Basketball Federation (FIBA) "had played a key role in demonstrating to the UK Sport board how much progress had been made over the past seven years" (GUARDIAN, 2/1).
MAKING A RUN: In London, Ashling O'Connor reported during funding reviews in the fall, British Basketball "had yet to learn the draw for EuroBasket," which takes place in Slovenia in September. Britain has since earned its highest seeding and has a realistic chance of making next year’s World Cup in Spain. UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said this was "significant." She said: "It increased our confidence that they had an excellent opportunity to qualify for Rio and, once there, the trajectory makes it possible for them to medal in 2020" (LONDON TIMES, 2/2).
DENG'S VOICE HEARD: Also in London, Ben Rumsby reported UK Sport "has denied bowing to pressure" from NBA player Luol Deng's letter to Prime Minister David Cameron after confirming British Basketball "would be awarded an initial one year of funding." Nicholl said of Deng's attempt to secure government intervention: "It doesn’t affect us. It’s a bit of noise. All our decisions are based on performance potential." Deng hailed the news Thursday as "incredible." He said, "The last few weeks have been a great example of teamwork and what can be achieved when everyone works together. The hard work, however, starts now" (TELEGRAPH, 2/1). FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said: "I am thrilled for British basketball and UK Sport's recognition and appreciation of the very strong case we presented. The new funding will allow the sport to build on the progress and growth it has already made in a very short time and aim for a podium place in 2020" (PA, 2/1).