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GB women 'still working for 2012'

By Rob Dugdale

Kim Butler
Kim Butler's game-high 22 points proved in vain for GB

Great Britain's women still have their eyes on the 2012 Olympics, says performance director Chris Spice.

World governing body Fiba insists they must be "competitive" in order to play in 2012 and the team were this week relegated to European Division B.

But Spice told BBC Sport: "We don't have a black and white statement [from Fiba] about what we have to do.

"We just want clarification that the door's still open and we'll continue to prepare as we normally would."

GB's defeat against Romania on Monday saw them relegated back to European Division B two seasons after they gained promotion.

They will remain in the lower tier at least until 2011 and it is unlikely they would play a Division A qualifying match before the 2012 Games due to the complex European schedule.

We've not been told that we are or are not going to the Olympics so as far as we're concerned we're still going

Chris Spice

The result has sparked fears funding body UK Sport will take back some of the 8.75 million it awarded to the programme - covering both the men's and women's teams - in December.

In the next few weeks, both GB Basketball and UK Sport will seek further clarification from Fiba on the team's situation.

"We've not been told that we are or are not going to the Olympics so as far as we're concerned we're still going," said Spice.

"We've been allocated money on targets agreed with UK Sport. We feel those targets are still well within our reach."

The first thing we will do is to try and gain a steer from Fiba in terms of the implications for 2012 qualification

UK Sport spokesman

A UK Sport spokesman told BBC Sport the situation was anticipated before the recent six-game relegation play-off series.

"The first thing we will do is to try and gain a steer from Fiba in terms of the implications for 2012 qualification," the spokesman added.

"The original funding decision was made on the basis of performance potential [in 2012 and 2016] relative to all the other sports we support.

"Despite recent results that judgement may be no different today than it was six weeks ago.

"However, should there be a material change to their circumstances, such as not being able to compete in London, then it is only right that our board look again at their investment decision."

GB's men's team have also made it to Division A and qualified for this year's EuroBasket finals in Poland, but have yet to hear whether that would fit Fiba's criteria.

"I don't want to pre-empt the discussions with Fiba right now," said Spice. "But even on their original criteria of being a Division A team by 2012 - we're still within that range.

606: DEBATE
After playing two qualifying programmes in the last five months, the women have no qualifying schedule this summer, an anomaly that Spice is keen to take advantage of.

"It's an opportunity for us to play teams of EuroBasket A Division strength or even to play world-ranked countries from outside Europe," he said.

"In some ways it's disappointing that we're not playing qualifiers, in other ways it gives us a flexibility we wouldn't have in organised competition."



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see also
Romania shred women's 2012 dream
19 Jan 09 |  Basketball
GB women up for relegation fight
17 Dec 08 |  Basketball
Basketball star has funding doubt
05 Dec 08 |  Basketball
Sports handed London 2012 budgets
03 Dec 08 |  Olympics


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