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London 2012: Olympic talent in Cambridgeshire
Tennis, football and equestrian sports
How much funding is available to encourage the county's future Olympians?

Cambridgeshire athletes and coaches claim sport is not always being funded in the right way, ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.

Success at national level is often dependent on having enough money to support a tough training regime.

The government agency Sport England has invested £4,333,924 of lottery funding and £2,279,018 of exchequer funding in Cambridgeshire in the last five years.

However, many sporting hopefuls still have little financial backing.

Funding

Sport England invests in capital projects in regions and funds national governing bodies, which give out money to individual athletes.

Nationally, £481,552,950 is being invested through 46 organisations in the four years leading up to the London 2012 Olympics.

Investments by local authorities also play a vital role in community sport in terms of infrastructure and specialist projects.

Many sports coaches and athletes in Cambridgeshire have said that while funding is available once competitors reach the top level, many talented sports people cannot afford to continue with their training at lower levels.

Swimming

Sport England has allocated £20,875,000 to swimming national governing bodies for 2009 until 2013.

Swimmers at City of Peterborough Swimming Club

In return it is expected that the size of the talent pool in all disciplines will increase from 1,879 to 4,476.

An increase of 50 new swimmers per year within Paralympic classification groups is also required.

At the City of Peterborough Swimming Club, 2012 Olympics hopeful, Charlie Walker, will be representing the Philippines instead of Britain.

He said it is part of his heritage and easier to qualify for the team, which will ensure he gets the funding needed to continue his career.

Equestrian sports

Sport England has allocated £4,268,002 to equestrian national governing bodies for 2009 until 2013.

In return it is expected that another 100 Olympic athletes will join regional academies.

Cambridgeshire event rider, Phoebe Buckley, said getting funding depends on being one of the best, but it is difficult to do that without the right horse, which is very expensive.

Football

Sport England has allocated £25,635,000 to football national governing bodies for 2009 until 2013.

Another £60,000,000 has been allocated to the Football Foundation.

In return it is expected that the number of female players in FA centres of excellence will increase by 1,710 from a base of 3,000.

Another requirement is that the number of players with disabilities in FA centres of excellence increases by 750 from a base of 510.

Cambridgeshire's Football Association will be introducing skills coaches in schools and football clubs in September, aimed at changing the style of coaching.

Gymnastics

Sport England has allocated £11,388,481 to gymnastic national governing bodies for 2009 until 2013.

Louis Smith practising at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club

In return it is expected that the number of members of the talent pool increases from 120 to 240 and that gymnasts obtain improved scores on the new scoring system.

Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, which is home to Olympic medallists Daniel Keatings and Louis Smith, is still waiting to be expanded and refurbished due to a lack of funding.

The £4.5m expansion plans were first mooted two years ago, and although the initial phase has been completed, it has come to a halt until further funding can be secured.

Meanwhile, as coach Paul Hall said, the 11-year-old equipment which has been "jumped all over" has to suffice.

He pointed out that there was likely to be even less funding available after 2012, so the gym needed to find the money now.

Tennis

Sport England has allocated £26,800,000 to tennis national governing bodies for 2009 until 2013.

In return it is expected that the number of juniors competing regularly (playing at least six competitive matches per annum) increases from 22,000 to 39,000.

It is also required that the number of players identified as "on track" for the top 100 increases from 24 to 44 across the nine to 18 age groups.

Officials at Cambridgeshire's Lawn Tennis Association have said at least 400 young players in the county compete at present.

Tennis coach Mike Lipschwitz owns an academy in Cambridge but said he gets hardly any funding.

Athletics

Sport England has allocated £20,447,169 to athletics national governing bodies for 2009 until 2013.

Goldie Sayers

In return it is expected that the average number of athletes increases across all senior and under-20s events over the Power of 10 national standard from 8.25 to 9.25.

Olympic javelin thrower Goldie Sayers, who lives in Cambridge, said the funding system in Britain could be overhauled so athletes were supported through local sports clubs instead of governing bodies.

However, she admitted that in a discipline such as competitive sport, where results are all-important, it was understandable that available funding was concentrated at the higher levels.




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