Great Britain v Lithuania; Reinking 568British Basketball’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics have been boosted after UK Sport agreed to fund the national teams.

The decision comes two days after officials from the performance body presented to the board of the government agency, asking for a U-turn in their previous decision to provide no cash support in the lead-up to Rio.

Prior to London 2012, British Basketball was receiving over £2 million per year from the Lottery to back both GB’s senior and Under-20 teams, as well as establishing a proper pyramid structure.

UK Sport have agreed to award the sport Lottery funding on an initial one-year conditional basis, covering this summer’s EuroBasket finals.

“Today’s news is absolutely fantastic for the sport, I am overwhelmed to hear basketball have been awarded funding from UK Sport,” said GB forward Drew Sullivan said. “ This news puts GB firmly back on the map and on the road to success. I would like to say a huge thank you to all the fans who have supported the campaign to fund British Basketball.”

However the teams performances there will now take on a massive importance with the following three years funding released only on the fulfilment of strict performance criteria. The exact amount of investment to be awarded, according to the agency, will be determined through further dialogue in the coming weeks.

“I appreciate this has been, and continues to be, a very difficult time for those sports and athletes with no funding,” Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair of the UK Sport Board, said.

“I speak on behalf of UK Sport’s Board when I say that we would like to thank those who presented to us on Wednesday for their commitment to the process and clear dedication to their athletes.

“We want to make it clear that we do not consider any of the non-funded sports to have failed. In fact most have made significant progress within this unique period whereby they were funded exceptionally given it was a home Games.

“Our decisions have been made on the detailed assessment of a sport’s future potential for medal success in Rio 2016 or 2020. The Board were assured by the level of detail that had been explored throughout the Rio investment process.”

Wheelchair fencing has also had its funding restored with table tennis, volleyball and wrestling among those sports whose appeal has been rejected and who must now decide whether to go through a formal arbitration process.

However UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholls has defended her agency’s strategy of prioritising medals at the expense of development, despite criticism that their funds have been unduly focused on sports whose competitors are drawn from the private school system or where medals are easier to win due to a narrow range of countries participating.

“Our ‘No Compromise’ investment principles have generated incredible results in recent Games, and we continue to wholeheartedly believe in this approach to realise our high ambitions for the Rio 2016 Games, where we are aiming for more Olympic and Paralympic medals than were won in London,” she said. “Our approach will deliver a stronger more sustainable high performance system.

“The door is not closed to any sport that has had their funding reduced or stopped. Every sport has the opportunity to come back to us at the annual review stage to make a case for future funding if they can demonstrate sufficient progress to evidence a credible medal opportunity within the next eight years.

“We will work with those sports that are not funded for the Rio cycle to manage this transition, to help them shape their future plans.”



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