British Weight Lifting Loses All Government Funding For 2020 Tokyo Olympics

British Weight Lifting was "shocked and devastated" to learn yesterday that they had lost all of their government funding for the training cycle heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

"We recognize that funding challenges exist throughout sport, but believe that UK Sport's approach of removing all funding for tier four sports will increase the disparity between the larger professional sports and the minority, largely amateur sports, which will be difficult to bridge in the future," British Weight Lifting wrote in a statement, which also revealed that they intend to formally appeal the decision. 

UK Sport, the organization responsible for promoting and supporting national sport development, also completely defunded badminton, archery, fencing and wheelchair rugby.  

"We would like to invest in every sport, but the reality is we have to prioritize to protect and enhance the medal potential," Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, told the BBC. "If we under-invest across the board, then the British teams will ultimately underperform at the Games and medal success will be put at risk."


In an interview with BBC radio, British Weight Lifting CEO Ashley Metcalfe seemed blindsided by the decision. 

"We didn't particularly see it coming," Metcalfe said. "We thought we'd been achieving milestones over the last three years; in fact, our results have grown, and our performances have improved dramatically." 

To illustrate that point, Metcalfe said that in the last 18 months, British Weight Lifting has racked up more than 50 medals in Commonwealth, European and World weightlifting events.

"We're going in the right direction, and we've got an outstanding group of young female weightlifters, in particular, with the likes of Rebekah Tiler and Zoe Smith leading the way," Metcalfe said. "The question is, will (Tiler) ever be able to really fulfill her potential, her Olympic potential, and achieve the goals she's set for herself?"

Now, Metcalfe said it's likely that Tiler, who competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics and enjoyed government support that allowed her to train full-time, will need to pursue extracurricular part- or full-time job options to sustain her training. 

"That's going to be remarkably challenging when other athletes around the world will be training full-time," Metcalfe said.

Even cycling, which earned Team Great Britain 12 Olympic medals in Rio this summer, wasn't immune to budget cuts--UK Sport slashed more than $4 million from its upcoming training cycle. 

Sports that received priority in this round of disbursement included track and field, gymnastics, and swimming. 

But the money isn't simply being reallocated--compared to the record £347m spent for Rio 2016, overall spending decreased this cycle by £2m, according to the BBC.

UK Sport supports teams with a combination of government funding and proceeds from the National Lottery.

​Stay tuned to FloElite for updates on this story and British Weight Lifting's appeal process.

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