Gillings slams UK Sport

Wed, 15 Dec 18:14:00 2010

Great Britain’s number one snowboarder Zoe Gillings has slammed UK Sport’s decision to strip her of her funding – claiming she meets all their criteria.

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In UK Sport’s funding review last week, winter sports on the whole saw their funding rise from 6.5 million to 11.3m, with the extra money going to those sports who did well in Vancouver earlier this year.

Bob skeleton - thanks to Amy Williams winning gold in Whistler - short-track speed skating, women’s bobsleigh and curling will all benefit from the increase.

But skiing and snowboarding will see their funding axed - the second major blow in a year after their national governing body went bust on the eve of the Games – as will figure skating.

UK Sport, disappointed by the return of just one medal from Vancouver 2010, have taken the decision to align winter sports funding with their summer counterparts – ensuring those sports that do not show medal potential are left out in the cold.

A UK Sport statement read: “Whilst results in Vancouver were of course taken into account, it was decided that, at present, there was not enough evidence to suggest that British Ski and Snowboard would have the programme or athletes capable of reaching the podium in Sochi in four years’ time or at the Winter Games in 2018.”

Having finished 15th at the 2006 Winter Olympics Gillings received 248,000 for the four-year period up to Vancouver 2010, where she finished eighth.

But despite rising to fifth in the world in the snowboardcross rankings in 2009 and achieving three FIS World Cup podium finishes in 2008 and 2009, Gillings has been left penniless by UK Sport’s funding review.

“I don’t agree with [UK Sport]. I am capable of reaching the podium in Sochi,” said Gillings.

“I may be biased as I'm talking about myself but I believe results should do the talking.

“World Cup competitions are the highest level of competition with all the top athletes in the World competing in these competitions.

“Since 2006 I have stood on the World Cup podium three times. I even beat the current Olympic Gold medalist, Canadian Maelle Ricker in the 2010 Austrian Boarder cross World Cup where I finished sixth overall. How can I not be capable of reaching the podium?

“There are lots of questions which I'm trying to find answers to, but the biggest is to understand how the decision has been made.

“I appreciate there is strict criteria on allocation of funding and if your performance is not up to scratch, then fine, but my results have improved every year since the funding began and come well within the criteria set by UK Sport on their website. Why am I not being funded?”

Gillings did however praise UK Sport for the support she had received in the past.

“Make no mistake about it, I may not agree with their current decision but over the past four years UK Sport have been the single biggest influence in my career and have allowed me to get to where I am today,” she added.

“They have helped me in many ways with my World Class program including building me an indoor start gate and producing me technologically advanced equipment on the lead up to Vancouver, they are not just about finance.

“They are a world class organization and one required to take our top athletes to the podium.

“Even though this news is extremely demoralizing and at the moment I literally don't know how I'm going to fund the program going forward there is absolutely no question,

“I will be continuing in the sport, 100 per cent.I have faced many obstacles in the last ten years – some minor and some very serious - and even though the answer to the current funding problem is yet to be found, there is no question I will continue.”

More than the Games / Eurosport

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