British weightlifter Rebekah Tiler
Early last month, we reported that the sport of weightlifting in the UK had lost its Olympic funding from UK Sport alongside a number of other sports. The reason cited for this decision was that weightlifting showed little chance of delivering an Olympic medal at either the Rio 2016 or Tokyo 2020 games. All of the affected sports were given the opportunity to appeal the decision to remove their funding.
Following an appeal by British Weightlifting, UK Sport today announced that it has reinstated Olympic funding for weightlifting but only for high level female weightlifters. The decision comes after the presentation of a new performance strategy focused on supporting the best of Britain’s female weightlifting talent and targeting resources primarily at these athletes. British Weightlifting has stated that a new World Class Programme will include six British female weightlifters – Zoe Smith, Rebekah Tiler, Emily Godley, Sarah Davies, Mercy Brown and Faye Pittman – who they believe can progress and develop in line with UK Sport’s investment principles which are based around a top 8 finish in Rio and a medal in Tokyo in 2020.
As things currently stand, funding will be withdrawn for male weightlifters previously on the World Class Programme. However, British Weightlifting has stated that it is strongly committed to the ongoing development of male athletes. It believes that it is realistic for the men to catch up to and progress in line with UK Sport development targets, which would be demonstrated by strong performances in upcoming international competitions like the Commonwealth Games and World Championships. This would increase the chances of funding being reinstated for male weightlifters at the next review scheduled for January 2015.
Reaction from the weightlifting community in the UK has generally been positive, although there is some disappointment that male lifters will miss out, for the time being at least. Weightlifting is the only one of the seven sports originally targeted for funding cuts to have the decision reversed.