Winter Olympics funding will not just be guided by medals, says UK sport chair

The chair of UK Sport, Katherine Grainger, has said future funding for winter sports will be based on grassroots participation as well as medals, after Great Britain departed the Beijing Winter Olympics with just two medals.

Grainger pointed to the need to “make our sports as wide and diverse as possible” and to reach a wider cross-section of the public. “It comes down to the fact that this public money – the public should have a benefit from it,” Grainger said. “A huge amount of that has been in the past two decades built around the focus on success, meaning the medals, and that is what gives us that status globally.”

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Both Team GB medals were secured in the final days of the event after gold- and silver-medal performances by the curling teams led by Eve Muirhead and Bruce Mouat. Other winter sports face questions about Team GB’s failure to match its target of three to seven medals. Great Britain won a joint-record five medals in both 2014 and 2018.

“Curling lifted the team, no doubt, but a lot of people – athletes first and foremost – would have been disappointed with the performances out there and we need to find out the reasons why that happened,” Grainger said. This will be a moment for reflection as the various sports begin to review recent events and look to find solutions in order to improve in the years leading up to Milan-Cortina in 2026.

“We will make our big investment decisions around the summer this year, and the main thing is for all the sports individually to go into a huge review process of not just the Games itself but also the last four years to see what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved,” she said.

Despite frustration over some results, Grainger argues that the overall impact of the sports should also be considered: “You might be saying, ‘That’s a disappointing Games.’ But actually the influence it can have and the reach it can have really matters. And that is why we will keep funding the winter sports and really backing them.”