UKA performance director says 2014-15 World Class Performance Programme selection decisions were “really tough”

Following the announcement of Lottery-funded athletes for 2014-15, UKA performance director Neil Black has reiterated how decisions were made with Olympic and Paralympic medals in mind.

A total of 129 athletes are to be supported by the national governing body’s World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) from December 1, with the selection of those athletes again based on their potential to win medals at Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The WCPP is funded by the National Lottery through UK Sport and currently UK Sport operates a “no compromise” approach in which National Lottery and government money is allocated each year according to medal success in the Olympics and Paralympics. Though UK Sport has recently said that its funding policy could be reviewed.

“We have been through a process in the past with there being an emphasis on making finals and now it’s about medals,” said Black. “The Paralympic programme is gold medals.

“We do need to remind ourselves that medals are the fundamental basis for being on the programme. To project into the future is not an easy thing to do.”

The programme is split into two levels: ‘Podium’ for the athletes the governing body believes have the potential to win medals at Rio 2016 and ‘Podium Potential’ for athletes developing towards Tokyo 2020.

Rising stars Matthew Hudson-Smith and Morgan Lake are among those to have been rewarded for their strong seasons, while Jo Pavey, Andy Vernon, Goldie Sayers and Jenny Meadows are among those to have missed out, despite Pavey and Vernon having claimed European and Commonwealth medals this summer.

On Hudson-Smith, who has been included on the WCPP for the first time following a summer which has seen him win European 400m silver behind Martyn Rooney in Zurich and also form part of the gold medal-winning GB 4x400m relay team, Black said: “Matthew has shown his undoubted talent in 2014 and we saw that on a number of occasions both on an individual level and as part of the relay squad.”

The 20-year-old, who also anchored the England team to the Commonwealth relay title, is one of 18 athletes to receive Olympic relay funding, and Black continued: “He has really put himself amongst some of the world’s best 400m runners, which is some achievement given that this is his first full year competing over the distance. With the additional support he’ll receive on the WCPP programme, I’m sure we’ll see that progression continue into next year where he’ll be targeting a place on the team for Beijing (World Championships).”

On his hopes for the year ahead, Black added: “2015 is about taking the positive momentum, confidence, competitiveness and belief that individually, as relay teams and as Great Britain and Northern Ireland we can be competitive.

“That’s the aim, to take that and re-establish those things at a global level and use the primary competitions of the year to further develop the skills to win medals, but also take that to the Olympic and Paralympic Games the following year where we have a need to really perform.”

A full list of athletes included on the 2014-15 World Class Performance Programme can be found here.