We question whether the cycle of seeking to beat the medal record of each successive Games is effective in fostering an ongoing legacy of participation – in particular in those communities that are not adequately represented in Team GB and ParalympicsGB.
If a sport loses its funding there is currently a direct impact on talent athletes that have been named to medal in a Games up to eight years away. There is the question of where these athletes land up in the system – their potential never allowed to be fulfilled.
For example, there are very few V.I. athletes competing at the Games – something which is naturally a concern to us as a V.I. sport supporting an under-represented and often marginalised group.
In addition, we believe that it is unhelpful, in practice, to separate grassroots and elite. Ideally, the two feed each other and support a self-sustaining cycle of increased participation, supportive talent development and inspiring elite teams.
By stepping off what the treadmill of what is widely named in the media as ‘medal farming’ and launching an inclusive program that supports a diverse range of athletes and sports, UK Sport has the opportunity to re-focus the UK approach to elite sport in a way that supports the sustained participation, well-being and health of the whole nation.