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- 07 October 2014 00:00
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UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl says that the success of British athletes at elite level is vital because it can help inspire more people to participate in sport at community level.
The agency has a clear remit at the ‘top end’ of Britain’s sporting pathway but Nicholl says that the elite athletes UK Sport fund take their job of inspiring young people very seriously.
"The Government recognise that there is a direct link between elite success and participation in sport,” Nicholl told Community Sport Network.
"That was well-demonstrated on the final day of the London 2012 Olympics when Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed our funding of £125 million per year for the four year cycle to Rio 2016.
"London 2012 showed that there is nothing more inspirational than seeing the nation’s elite athletes win medals and the £125 million per year funding is designed to help ensure that our athletes can be successful at Rio 2016 and in future Olympic and Paralympic Games and major championships.
"Our commitment goes even further than that because we ask all of our funded athletes to give up to five days a year to inspire children and young people to get involved in sport.
"So far the athletes have volunteered more than 8,000 days of their time demonstrating that they are committed to giving back to their communities.
"They are wonderful role models for children and young people and their efforts make a great contribution to ensuring the Olympic and Paralympic legacy.
"So we are clearly very focused at UK Sport on helping ensure that our athletes help to inspire at community level.”
Nicholl also defended UK Sport’s "No Compromise” approach whereby only athletes and sports with the greatest chance of succeeding on the world stage are funded.
The philosophy has come under criticism in the media with suggestions that the money be more widely distributed to less successful sports in order to help increase grassroots participation.
"We must be clear when it comes to No Compromise because what it actually means is that we invest the right resources, in the right athletes, for the right reasons,” said the UK Sport CEO.
"It is a commitment to channelling the resources needed towards athletes and sports with the greatest chance of succeeding on the world stage.
"It demands that we reinforce excellence, support talent, challenge under-performance and reject mediocrity.
"It was this approach that helped ensure our huge success at London 2012.
"We feel this is the right focus and it must be remembered that we have a clear remit at the ‘top end’ of Britain’s sporting pathway.
"I think sometimes the views out there of No Compromise are slightly misinformed.
"For example with basketball, there is a suggestion that because we cut elite funding for them, there is someone out there that is unable to play basketball at a recreational level.
"That isn’t accurate.
"Our main focus is on athletes and sports that can succeed on the world stage and the strategic investment into grassroots sports is for other agencies, such as Sport England.
"Sport England receives more than double the funding UK Sport has, to invest in grassroots sport.
"So I do understand the debate but if we value the success of our athletes on the world stage and value the inspirational power their triumphant achievements can provide then the No Compromise philosophy of investing the right resources, in the right athletes, for the right reasons is absolutely vital to delivering medal success.”
To read the full Catch Up interview with Liz Nicholl, Click Here