“We have reached a point where the win-at-all-cost approach of UK Sport has had its time,” Warner said. “These issues must come to a head with a thorough review of the entire elite funding structure and principles underlying it. There is too much of a culture of medal winners and non-medal winners which is unhealthy and doesn’t speak well for us as a sporting society.
“Post London 2012 basketball was one of the big losers but this is sport which is fast-growing and played by people with deprived backgrounds,” he said. “We should do everything we can to have a British team back in the Olympics for the inspirational effect it would have on youngsters.
“Certainly we need a grown-up debate that looks at the benefits of one extra marginal medal out of the very many that Britain wins, versus the ability to fund an aspirant sport like basketball that is hugely important internationally and the benefits of which could be enormous in terms of people participating.”a
Although I agree with him that the likes of basketball and badminton should be funded, there’s little evidence that medals do much to inspire people to take up sport.
I can’t say that UKA have given the impression that they’re railing against the system, given some of their funding decisions.
Perhaps what he’s implying is that the UKA decisions about funding and representation have effectively been unavoidable due to the UK Sport strictures that they are under. That might go some way to explaining why the decisions have often gone unexplained; perhaps UKA hasn’t wanted to rock the UK Sport boat for a while.
If my “glass half full” interpretation is correct, then I’m glad finally UKA is sharing with the outside world its concerns about the way it has had to take elite athletics in the light of UK Sport’s position.
Larkim, of course UKA have to follow UK Sport’s guidelines for Olympic selection, but surely they’re able to do what they like for U20 and U23 development competitions? Yet UKA imposed a ‘medal or nothing’ policy for these events too, which to me seems absurd when everyone knows the correlation between junior and senior success is poor, and it may be the athlete who goes out in their heat who goes on to great things, while the winner drops out soon after.
Surprising and pleasing to see Athletics and Warner in particular putting their heads above the parapet.
I thought they would be one of the last sports to do so the way selection policies had increasingly followed UK Sport dictat plus their vulnerability (shared by many sports) to funding cuts if a bad games happened along. It is good to get the issue out in the open. Hopefully Warner will backed up by some other sports, but don’t hold your breath.
Sidelined, of course you’re right that a good junior doesn’t necessarily make a good senior, but I can see the logic of applying the same rationale to younger athletes that they will face as seniors, even if we think that’s misguided. Never quite understood the need for U23s though.
I don’t disagree with anything Warner says but a bit rich of him to come out with this now when he’s leaving his post in a few Months time. I am reminded of all the FA chairs & Executives who talk about FA reform as & when they’re leaving or have left but do little about it whilst in their job.
It will be interesting to see if there is change to UK sport policy. With all the concerns around athlete welfare currently, it does feel that if there is going to be change now is the time.
Elite funding is entirely dictated by medal potential.
The result is that sports like Rowing and Modern Pentathlon (expensive, elitist and non-inclusive) are well funded and others like Badminton (inclusive) have been abandoned.
Likewise the grass roots funding has been hijacked by Government Policy on increasing activity (health and wellness).
Between these 2 is grass roots sport as delivered by Athletic Clubs, run by hard working volunteers. I get the impression that UK Sport/Sport England just expect we will continue to dedicate our lives to our hobby and everything will just carry on. As a sport we are desperately need investment in facilities and tangible support and guidance at Club level. I see a decrease in this support.