Statement from British Weight Lifting: UK Sport Tokyo 2020 funding decision
We are shocked and devastated that UK Sport has not awarded any funding for our lifters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle.

We are incredibly proud of our athletes’ achievements in Rio, where we qualified both male and female lifters – despite only our female squad receiving UK Sport funding for the Rio Olympic cycle.

17-year-old Rebekah Tiler finished in 10th place and 22-year-old Sonny Webster in 14th place, the result of two fantastic performances in what was the first Olympic Games for both athletes.

The sport of weightlifting in the UK is on a positive upwards trajectory and our performance on the international stage is increasing. This year, thanks to the hard work of the lifters, coaches and support staff at British Weight Lifting, we have achieved in excess of 50 medals across all age groups at Commonwealth, European and World Weight Lifting events.

The sport is continuing to grow and we have been particularly successful in identifying and developing female talent, including a World Class Programme squad of six athletes currently training full-time at Loughborough, including Rebekah Tiler and fellow Olympian and current Commonwealth Games Champion Zoe Smith.

Through a continued evolution of our high performance structure, medals at Tokyo 2020 were a realistic target for this squad which, given UK Sport’s ambition to deliver more medals, reinforces the short-sightedness of this decision. We have also proven that our high performance coaching teams – who work across both weightlifting and para powerlifting – can put in place the structure and support to deliver world-level medal winning performances.

We recognise that funding challenges exist throughout sport, but believe that UK Sport’s approach of removing all funding for tier four sports will increase the disparity between the larger professional sports and the minority, largely amateur sports, which will be difficult to bridge in the future.

We have taken significant steps to be more independent of grant funding and attract additional commercial revenues but this move is effectively curtailing the true potential of our sport.

We are not proposing that UK Sport jeopardise British medal success, however, we cannot understand why our funding request was rejected given the evidence presented.

British Weight Lifting will look to explore all options regarding an appeal of this decision.

Meanwhile, we would like to assure our lifters, coaches and the weightlifting family that we will do everything that we can to maintain our medal ambitions, which in turn we hope will continue to inspire future generations of weightlifters and work towards making Great Britain a truly world class weightlifting nation.

Ashley Metcalfe
CEO, British Weight Lifting

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