Top local stars avoid cuts after controversial funding programme

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SOUTH Yorkshire’s leading sports stars have escaped unscathed from UK Sport’s controversial Olympic 2016 funding programme.

The nation’s high performance sports agency announced yesterday how a record pot of £347million would be distributed in the run-up to the Rio de Janeiro Games, with cycling, rowing, boxing, athletics and gymnastics among those given increases.

By contrast, several sports are paying the price for failure at London 2012 with severe cuts to their income.

Table tennis and volleyball, which are based at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, miss out on funding altogether along with basketball, handball and wrestling, while volleyball is down to £400,000 from £3.5million, with the new sum all going to women’s beach volleyball.

The announcement led to some angry reactions, with Team GB volleyball player Maria Bertelli tweeting: “@uk_sport @london2012 @sebcoe legacy? Please explain? Gave everything & more because I believed your promises #false.”

Chris McDermott, a member of the British handball team, reacted with dismay, said: “It feels we’ve been mis-led and cheated.

“I think the whole tag and mantra of the Games was ‘legacy’, and handball has shown we’re capable of producing a legacy. The sport in England, participation has quadrupled since the Olympic Games. If you take away the elite end, what do these kids have to aspire towards?

“The level of the sport will never improve unless the elite end is funded. They shouldn’t be so short-sighted in their aspirations.”