After a tough week, life just got a little easier for British Weight Lifting.
On December 9, the United Kingdom governmental body, UK Sport, announced that they were withdrawing all of their funding for British Weight Lifting’s Tokyo 2020 training cycle. (Note that in Britain, the sport is “weight lifting” and not “weightlifting.”) In a statement, British Weight Lifting announced that they were “disappointed and shocked” by the news.
Today, help has arrived from a different public body, Sport England, which has provided 2.2 million pounds in funding. Unlike UK Sport, Sport England is not officially part of any governmental department but is linked to the government through various partnerships and responsibilities.
The money comes as part of an 88 million-pound funding agreement to several sports, and while it won’t quite make up for the funding that was withdrawn by UK Sport last week — nor is the money to be used for the exact same purpose — it will make a significant difference to British Weight Lifting’s operations going forward.
Officially, the money is not earmarked for Olympic competitors; it’s intended to target sport’s “core market,” meaning people who are already involved in at least two sporting activities, with the goal of reducing drop out. This can take the form of organizing more high-quality competitions and social tournaments, the creation of more junior clubs and networks linked to schools, and maintaining and improving existing training facilities. But in addition to this goal, it can be used to help “talented athletes trying to reach the top.”
“We are delighted to receive confirmation of our new funding allocation from Sport England,” said British Weight Lifting CEO Ashley Metcalfe in a statement. “This is more than double what we currently receive and clearly reflects the potential that Sport England see in the sport.”
Here we should also emphasize that this funding is intended for England and not the U.K., so it will not assist weightlifters in the nations of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
Metcalfe went on to say that recently, England has seen an increase in the number of Olympic weightlifters, especially among women and people with disabilities. Sport England’s director of sports added that the strategy is intended to “achieve the next big increase in the number of people playing sport and being active.”
While it’s not yet clear exactly how this will affect the athletes training for Tokyo 2020, the funding boost has brightened the future of Olympic weightlifting in Britain and should help to keep Britons engaged with the sport and competing well into the future.
Featured image via British Weight Lifting.