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London O-limp-ics

Britain’s Olympic sports could have a whole lot of money leaving their coffers if the government’s autumn spending review concludes that more belt-tightening before the London Olympics in 2012. This would mean that half of the sports could have their funding severely cut in order to divert that money to athletes with a greater chance of winning medals.

Peter Keen, UK Sport’s director of performance, said to The Guardian that he would have no problems with moving money from 50% of the UK’s sporting bodies in order to maximise the chances of those in with a shout of a medal. Which means if you’re a shooter then your chances of receiving more money are very, very slim indeed.

‘Like all publicly funded organisations we'll soon hear our budget,’ Keen said. ‘You must remember that our London mission was funded by a dramatic increase in exchequer funding, not lottery funding. But we're dependent on exchequer funding that will be determined in the autumn.

‘We're £50m down on the original budget we had in 2006. It was a £600m investment and it's a shame we don't have that now. But it's more important to focus on our mindset rather than the money. With any reasonable budget we will give the backing those athletes deserve. And so if that means we can only fund half the sports then that's all we can do. What we really don't want to do is dilute our commitment to excellence.

My ultimate loyalty is to elite sport. I learned early on that if you compromise, if you don't look the monster in the eye, you invariably fail. If you distribute money to the point where you are spreading it so thinly then you're not recognising a key point: that to do it properly does cost. There are no shortcuts for our rowers and sailors and swimmers. They often travel the world more than 100 days a year. Somebody has to pay to allow them to compete in these world events. Our whole rationale about how we award funding is built on that fundamental insight.’

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