A look at the athletes who are set to be added to or cut from the governing body’s world class performance programme
Next week UK Athletics will reveal the list of names who made it on to the world class performance programme for the 2013 season. For the athletes involved, it can be a more nerve-wracking – and controversial – time than major championships selection.
The decision-making process is a complex one, as individual members of the British team meet with a selection panel comprising the Olympic head coach, a national performance centre director, the head of coaching and development, and a statistician, among others.
UKA has issued a 28-page document on their website which outlines the full decision-making process. Some of the selections will be easier than others. The ‘podium’ category of funding, for example, is split into three levels – A, B and C. As explained on page 17 of UKA’s document, medallists from the London 2012 Olympics will be put on level A funding. Medallists from last year’s World Championships who have the potential to win a medal at next year’s World Championships will also be included on level A.
Level B is for athletes who achieved a top-eight finish at the London Olympics, and for those who finished in the top-eight at the Daegu World Championships with 2013 medal potential.
But level C is where the tougher decision-making has to be made. This is for athletes who are considered to have top-eight potential at next year’s World Championships and medal potential at the 2016 Olympics.
And then there’s the ‘development’ category of funding, which is split into levels D (for athletes who have top-eight potential at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, and medal potential at the 2020 Games) and E (those who are soon likely to progress to level D and with characteristics to become a future podium athlete at a global championships).
Levels C, D and E could be open to subjectivity and educated guess work, but UKA has set out a range of criteria – such as specific performances and medals from major junior championships – that would strengthen the cases of those hoping to be included on the programme.
Of course until next week no one will know exactly who has made it on to the programme, but by using the criteria to assess performances achieved by British athletes this year, it’s possible to hazard a guess as to which athletes are facing promotion – or demotion – on the world class performance programme.
Robbie Grabarz – Cut from funding last year, the high jumper committed himself to the sport and it resulted in a staggering breakthrough, winning the European title and taking bronze at the Olympics. He is now set to be added to the top level of podium funding, joining his fellow British Olympic medallists (Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Christine Ohuruogu) who were all already funded.
Adam Gemili – The young sprinter was funded as a ‘development’ athlete for the 2012 season, but his remarkable season saw him win the world junior 100m title and miss out on making the Olympic 100m final by one place. His potential for a top-eight finish at next year’s World Championships and a medal in 2016 should see him added to level C of podium funding.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Like Gemili, Johnson-Thompson struck gold at the World Junior Championships, winning the long jump despite being a heptathlon specialist. She finished 15th at the Olympics and has met UKA’s performance criteria for level C funding with two heptathlons in excess of 6163.
Lawrence Clarke – His fourth-place finish in the 110m hurdles was one of the most overlooked British performances of the Games, but the selection panel will be well aware of his result and could reward him with level B funding. Meanwhile training partner Andy Pozzi appears to have done more than enough to satisfy the criteria for level C funding.
Julia Bleasdale – Another success story of 2012, the distance runner returned to the track and smashed her PBs in several events. Her top-eight finishes in both the 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympics should be enough for level B funding.
Andrew Osagie – On development funding for a couple of years, the 800m runner now looks set for promotion to podium level funding after having the season of his career so far, taking bronze at the World Indoors before making the Olympic final and smashing his PB.
Laura Weightman – An injury-free winter resulted in a big breakthrough over 1500m, setting a huge PB to qualify for the Olympic final. A development athlete last year, she could be promoted to level C podium funding.
Lawrence Okoye – Although his big breakthrough happened last year, the discus thrower has continued to improve this season and has become far more consistent. He made the finals at both the European Championships and Olympics, but missed out on a top-eight finish which means he’ll likely be put on level C funding.
Sophie Hitchon – The UK hammer record-holder just missed out on podium level funding last year, but after another great season which saw her smash through the 70-metre barrier and set a PB to make the Olympic final, she could well be added to the level C list for 2013.
Nathan Douglas – Extremely talented, but just as unlucky. The triple jumper suffered a freak training injury last year and made a long-awaited return earlier in 2012. But after one competition he picked up another injury and was out for the season. After several years of podium funding while on the sidelines, he could be dealt another blow by being taken off the programme.
Marlon Devonish – One of the most reliable members of the British team, but now aged 36 he missed out on making the Olympic team and wasn’t even included in the relay squad. Ranked just ninth in the country over 200m, UKA may believe that Britain’s future hopes of relay medals rest with the younger generation.
Nicola Sanders – A former world silver medallist over 400m, niggling injuries mean that she has not broken 51 seconds since 2009. She has produced numerous stunning relay legs in the past, but didn’t feature in the final four at this year’s Olympics and may miss out in future championships.
Paula Radcliffe – One of Britain’s most successful athletes and an ever-present on the world class performance programme ever since it began. But the latest injury blow that saw her miss out on the Olympics could be the beginning of the end of her sensational career.
Women’s 800m – As with the Olympic team selection, this event could witness a bit of controversy. Lynsey Sharp – who was given the sole Olympic place ahead of athletes with faster qualifying times – has not met the performance standards for level C funding, but her silver medal at the European Championships could go in her favour. Meanwhile, Jenny Meadows – who missed out on the 2012 season through injury – will have to state her case to the panel to prove she’s worth podium funding for another year. So too will Marilyn Okoro, who hasn’t met the time standards for level C funding (three performances below 1:59.69), but produced the fastest time of the year by a British woman and was consistent on the international circuit.
The relay teams – Last year saw a notable drop in the number of athletes funded as part of the relay squads. After another disappointing year which saw no Olympic medals for any British team, and the women’s 4x100m failing to even qualify for the Games, it will be interesting to see which athletes are kept on funding for their potential as future relay medallists.
Jo Pavey – Any athlete who has been off the world class performance programme for a year or more will be at the mercy of a selection panel’s decision, regardless of how well they have performed in 2012. Pavey – who was cut from funding a few years ago – missed out on making the Olympic team at the marathon, but turned her fortunes around to qualify for the 5000m and 10,000m, finishing seventh in both Olympic finals and setting a PB in the latter. But with many funding decisions based on progression and future potential, Pavey – who will turn 40 next year – will have to convince the panel that she is worth backing.