Hopes for a medal in the Olympic Games from the GB Climbing Team has risen further, after UK Sport announce plans to support Climbing with an award of up to £630,000, subject to approval of a plan and associated budget for this resource.
Climbing was officially declared as a new Olympic sport nearly six months ago, the result of a concerted campaign for Olympic inclusion headed by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). Since then, UK athletes have been eagerly awaiting an announcement from UK Sport, the country’s funding body of elite athletes, to see if they would invest in the GB Climbing Team and its medal potential.
UK Sport announce Olympic Climbing budget
Today, 1 February 2018, UK Sport announced new investment into more British medal hopes and exciting new events and disciplines in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The high performance funding agency revealed that it considers British athletes in Climbing have genuine medal potential, and confirmed its intention to set aside a budget to explore alternative approaches to investing in medal success. It was agreed that Climbing should be a priority for investment from the alternative fund, and an award of £630,000 is to be set aside for the remainder of the Tokyo cycle.
The investment is subject to the approval of a plan and budget, and the costs are based on implementing a ‘Medal Support Plan’ around key athletes. With now less than two years until the Tokyo 2020 games, the programme needs to be implemented quickly to benefit the athletes. Due to the urgency with which a programme needs to be put in place prior to Tokyo, any investment is subject to the BMC agreeing to the programme being implemented through a partnership with the English Institute of Sport (EIS). The EIS would be the recipient of the award, and be responsible for forming and implementing the plan in partnership with the BMC.
Dave Turnbull, BMC CEO, says: “This is a great result for our top climbers and competition climbing as a whole in the run-up to Tokyo 2020. We’ve had some world class results in recent years and it’s great to see these achievements recognised through government funding. We look forward to working with the EIS to ensure our climbers have the very best possible chance of medal success.”
Today’s announcement also unveiled that UK Sport is increasing its medal ambitions for Tokyo following strong performances in 2017. The Tokyo Olympic medal target range is increasing to 54-92 (from 51-85) and the Paralympic medal target range is increasing to 119-168 (from 115-162).
Liz Nicholl, UK Sport chief executive, says: “UK Sport’s vision is to inspire the nation through Olympic and Paralympic success. Today’s announcement, following the annual investment review into our summer sports, confirms strong potential to deliver more medal moments from more sports in Tokyo 2020.
“Exciting new events such as sport climbing, karate, para taekwondo and BMX freestyle will be funded to inspire a whole new generation of Olympic and Paralympic sports fans and it is fantastic that we already have world class talents ready to compete for medals in those events and more.”
Potential Climbing Olympians
UK Sport says that initial investment in the new Olympic sports will be made through new innovative and targeted medal support plans, as part of a new investment stream aimed at specific athletes with immediate medal potential in Tokyo. BMC ambassador Shauna Coxsey has been named by UK Sport as the athlete with the highest medal potential in the GB Climbing Team.
This comes as no surprise considering she is the reigning and two-time IFSC Bouldering World Cup Champion. Shauna has been ear-marked as one of the key athletes who will receive funding as, with training in Lead and Speed, the two other disciplines in the combined climbing event, is likely to do well in Tokyo 2020.
Shauna Coxsey says: “Today my journey to the Olympics became a little bit more real. UK Sport has announced its commitment to fund Climbing and I am fortunate enough to be recognised as a potential medalist. This funding will enable me to access elite level training support and help me to become the best climber I can possibly be. I am more motivated than ever to train hard and pursue my goals! I would like to thank all those who have supported me on my journey so far. It’s going to be an exciting few years! Bring on Tokyo 2020.”
READ: Second golden year of glory for Shauna Coxsey
Meanwhile, the GB Climbing Team has a number of young talented hopefuls with medal potential too, such as Molly Thompson-Smith, Will Bosi, Hannah Slaney and Jim Pope amongst others. They will have to prove their prowess on the 2018 competition circuit to win a share of the pot.
Zoe Spriggins, BMC competitions programme manager, says: “It’s inspiring to see Climbing and the dedicated GB Climbing Team athletes gain recognition through government funding. We’re excited to be working to help competition climbing realise its potential in the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, and look forward to partnering with the EIS during this historic time.”
How does funding work?
The primary role of UK Sport is to strategically invest National Lottery and Exchequer income to maximise the performance of UK athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the global events which precede them. Investment decisions are made on a four year basis wherever possible to cover a complete Olympic or Paralympic cycle but are focussed on an eight year performance development model. Success is measured by the medals won, the number of medallists developed, and the quality of the systems and processes in place to find and support the nation’s most promising future champions. More information can be found on its website.
READ: 6 things you didn’t know about climbing and the OIympics
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HIGHLIGHTS: 2019 La Sportiva British Bouldering Championships