BADMINTONscotland Chief Executive Anne Smillie has said she is extremely disappointed by UK Sport’s rejection of GB Badminton’s appeal against a 100 per cent funding cut and has called for Government intervention.
The GB Board were equally disappointed by the ruling and Ms Smillie said: “The decision by UK Sport to refuse badminton’s appeal is a major set-back to the sport and the Government should intervene to overturn it.
“I see no justification for leaving an Olympic medal winning sport with no funding whatsoever, especially when sports that didn’t win medals or reach their targets have retained their funding.”
Ms Smillie said there would be serious implications for players’ careers, in particular for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games and European silver medallist Kirsty Gilmour.
“UK Sport’s reasoning that badminton is unlikely to win a medal in Tokyo and that our GB players need to be more consistent against the very best in the world is a poor excuse.
“Badminton won a men’s doubles medal in Rio: a shock result because it wasn’t the medal chance that had been predicted, but less of a shock to those who know the quality of the badminton programme.
“Badminton exceeded its targets, has a strong pathway and has a strategic plan which was approved by UK Sport. Where there is a robust system in place, ‘shock results’ are always possible.
“Without a strong performance programme to provide quality coaching and with no grant to enable them to train and compete full time, British athletes will be at a huge disadvantage.
“Olympic qualification is a long, difficult and expensive process, which only the wealthy few will be able to attempt. Losing the resource to deliver a quality service to the elite end of the sport is only the tip of the iceberg.
“It means there is now a massive barrier to the badminton pathway and the fear is that many young people will be deterred from taking up the sport because reaching the top will be virtually impossible.
“Badminton is one of the most popular sports in the UK. Over three quarters of a million people, of all ages, play it regularly. It is probably the most accessible sport with every town and village in the land having a badminton court and it is not expensive.
“It plays a significant role in the health and well-being of the nation but all this will be at risk if young people stop taking up the sport.
“Questions should be asked about the way in which decisions on sports funding are reached. No money is likely to lead to no medals. However, increasing investment in less accessible sports than badminton does not necessarily mean that they will exceed or improve on their previous targets
“There are a number of sports that are far less accessible to ordinary people than badminton and far more expensive to take part in who have attracted greater investment.
“I would suggest that spreading the investment a little more equitably is more likely to lead to more success.
“The situation of Kirsty Gilmour shows the impact from a Scottish perspective. She is a Commonwealth Games and European Championships silver medallist who reached a world ranking of 15 to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Her goal was to continue her development and mount a serious challenge for a medal in Tokyo.
“To do this she had a personal award from UK Sport to allow her to train full time and a competition budget to allow her to compete all over the world to gain the necessary points.
“All of this has now been taken away yet Kirsty’s costs associated with training every day and competing around 20 times a year all over the world must still be met.
“Needless to say BADMINTONscotland will support Kirsty and she will work with Malaysian coach Tat Meng Wong, who we have brought to Scotland to work with our premier players in the build up to the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 in Glasgow this August.
“BADMINTONscotland, are fortunate to have positive support from sportscotland, but they too are under financial pressure and they will not be able to completely fill the gap.
“The next generation of players are already suffering. Their immediate goal of moving from the Scottish Programme to the British programme and being able to access necessary funding to compete around the world and move up the rankings has been wiped out.
“This outcome is extremely detrimental to our sport and I would urge government to take a closer look at how UK Sport is using its considerable resources.”
For further information and interviews, please contact
Anne Smillie: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0141 445 1218 / 07971 403525
or Peter Dean: email@example.com / 0141 445 1218