Scottish athletes have made their mark on the UKA Funding Programmes for the next 12 months on the ‘Road to Rio’.
No fewer than 15 have been named on various levels of World Class Performance Programme support by UK Athletics, as a series of good performances over 2014 are recognised and rewarded.
It is a rise by three from the total of 12 athletes supported over the past year – that’s a 25 percent rise – and represents more than 11 percent of the 129 British athletes who will receive funding.
Looking back through our website archive, there were seven Scots announced on funding in October 2011, eight in the October 2012 announcement and a dozen in the lists revealed a year ago. So the upward progress by Scottish athletes and coaches being backed by the World Class programmes from UKA is marked.
Para sport is a burgeoning Scottish strength at the moment, with no fewer than six of the 15 listed setting their hearts on the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
UKA say Podium is for athletes with the potential to medal in Rio 2016 while Podium Potential is for athletes developing towards Tokyo 2020.
Lynsey Sharp has moved up to ‘Podium’ funding for the Olympics while Eilidh Child remains bracketed as part of the 4 x 400m Relay Programme.
Overall, there are four new names on the lists from Scotland as high jumper David Smith, middle distance runner Jake Wightman and Para duo Maria Lyle and Jo Butterfield join the UKA programmes. Jamie Bowie, unfortunately, drops off but is the sole Scot (from those funded last year) to do so.
With a separate announcement soon to cover the Futures Programme, our representation should rise still further over the next couple of weeks. Wightman and Nick Percy were on this for the past 12 months.
‘After a summer with many of our athletes in the spotlight, an increase in the numbers of Scottish athletes being recognised and supported by UKA at Podium and Potential level is excellent,’ said scottishathletics chief executive, Nigel Holl.
‘It is what we would have hoped to see; and a huge testament to them and their coaches/support teams. Congratulations to all those involved because it is fully merited.
‘I believe our role in performance in Scotland is to do what we can to support Scottish athletes to the stage where they merit being picked up by UKA – we are now focusing that work and identify it as ‘Performance Foundation’.
‘This is integrated across Para and mainstream athletics and it’s good to see strong Scottish representation across both the Para and Olympic programmes run by UKA.
‘I would expect to see a few more Scottish athletes named in ‘Futures Programme’ by UKA in due course. I think we certainly have some younger, emerging athletes who merit that level of support over and above the 15 who have now been named.
‘That is consistent with the young Scottish team who were selected and performed at Glasgow 2014 – we said then the future looks promising, and I hold that view.’
Support for Scottish athletes extends beyond UKA Programmes, of course.
Holl added: ‘Let me stress that athletes with serious ambitions to compete at elite level who are outside the UKA Funding Programme receive as much support and backing as is as possible by scottishathletics in partnership with sportscotland and the sportscotland institute – and this is consistent with the Performance Foundation principles and approach.
‘This often takes the form of assistance with competition costs, warm weather training and physio when we are able and of course help and backing for their coaches in the development of these athletes.
‘And, of course, in other areas like road running and cross country and hill running we regularly fund Scotland teams for certain competition opportunities.’
The full detail on all the UKA lists is on the British Athletics website.
Scots on the programme are as follows:
Olympic: Lynsey Sharp
Olympic Relay: Eilidh Child
Paralympic: Jo Butterfield, Libby Clegg, Maria Lyle, Stef Reid
Podium Potential WCPP:
Olympic: Mark Dry, Eilish McColgan, Laura Muir, Chris O’Hare, Allan Smith, David Smith, Jake Wightman
Paralympic: Meggan Dawson-Farrell, Sammi Kinghorn