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Officials hail new Olympic cash

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BOA delighted with 'Team 2012' funding plan

GB Olympic officials hope to be able to field the strongest team ever at London 2012 with a new funding initiative.

Budgets were £50m short of target when announced in January but Visa is believed to have committed close to £10m to the Team 2012 initiative.

Team 2012 is aiming to raise £25m in all to support athletes.

And British Olympic Association chief Andy Hunt said: "This is a real opportunity to field the broadest, most competitive team at 2012."

Team 2012 brings together the BOA, the British Paralympics Association and the London 2012 organising committee and UK Sport.

Scholefield hopeful of GB success

Its aim is to provide a third stream of private sector income, to run alongside National Lottery and government funding, for leading athletes.

Eight Olympic sports, including fencing, and shooting, and four Paralympic sports saw their funding slashed by over 50% in January.

But John Steele, chief executive of funding body UK Sport, said those sports will not be prioritised for this new funding.

"They are in the mix with everyone else," he said. "We will do what we've always done, which is to invest money on merit."

In the January budget reallocation, water polo suffered a 54% cut to £1.45m between then and 2012.

If we weren't funded, we wouldn't be top of the pile; we'd be fighting for final places rather than medals

Rower Stephen Rowbotham

And the sport's governing body chose to take the cash up front, meaning they will need more funding if they are to carry on until the Games.

However, GB player Adam Scholefield hopes this month's performance in qualifying for the European Championships will convince UK Sport to allocate them some of the Team 2012 money.

"We all moved to Manchester three years ago so we'd all been training together and working towards 2012," he told BBC Sport.

"Everyone wanted to leave but we've worked so hard for it that we didn't want to throw it all in and give up.

"If we don't get any more funding then we're really going to be struggling to make it to 2012.

"If we can get some money into the sport there's a really good chance we can be competitive in 2012 and hopefully qualify for 2016, which would be a good legacy."

This is a terrific vote of confidence by the business community

Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe

Rower Stephen Rowbotham, who won an Olympic bronze in the double scull in Beijing, is less likely to see a direct benefit from this deal as his sport already receives £6.87m annually.

But he said: "We couldn't do what we do without the funding, there's no question about that.

"If we weren't funded, we wouldn't be top of the pile. We'd be fighting for final places rather than medals.

"Behind every athlete there's 20 people who have got me to where I am. [Funding] means we get coaches, support staff, the best equipment, we go on the best training camps.

"In Beijing we knew we were the best prepared team out of anyone there."

Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said: "This is a terrific vote of confidence by the business community in the work being done to give our medal hopefuls the best chance of striking gold in 2012."

The BOA's Olympic coaching programme, led by Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, will receive "seed corn funding" from the deal.

Steele said there was "100% support" for the programme, following suggestions of unrest among athletes over the initiative possibly infringing their own sponsorship deals.

"Team 2012 is not linked to specific athletes. Intellectual property and image rights have not been impeded so athletes are free to do other deals," added Steele.



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see also
Visa to sponsor Olympic hopefuls
29 Sep 09 |  Business
Bodies unite to boost 2012 hopes
25 Feb 09 |  Olympics
GB miss out on water polo medal
13 Sep 09 |  Swimming
Olympic sports hit by funding cut
29 Jan 09 |  Olympics


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