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GB Short Track response to UK Sport funding announcement

UK Sport have confirmed today that the GB Short Track Speed Skating World Class Programme will not continue to be funded by UK Sport in the Beijing Olympic cycle.

The decision has been made in line with other unfunded sports.  The World Class Programme will receive transitional support over the next 9 to 12 months from UK Sport working towards the 2019 ISU World Championships.

2017 World Champion Elise Christie, who finished with a personal best 4th place at the PyeongChang Olympic Games in 2018, will be offered an innovative new Medal Support Plan investment given her significant and consistent world level success in the PyeongChang cycle.

Elise said following the decision,

“I am gutted for our sport, we have a fantastic team and great successes particularly in the past two years. I am thankful for the support UK Sport and the National Lottery has given me and that they still recognise my medal potential. We’ll be working on a plan moving forward in the coming weeks, I don’t know exactly how that will look right now.”

Performance Director Stewart Laing said,

“We understand that UK Sport have had to make a tough decision, and that there is less government and National Lottery funding available across British sport of which we have been thankful to receive over the years.

We are very disappointed by the decision, and will be focusing on supporting our athletes, staff and their families before convening to discuss our next steps for supporting our World Class Programme and developing an individual plan for Elise Christie.

We have had historic success and we will work closely with the National Ice Skating Association on how we maintain the support for the sport moving forward.”

Kathryn Thomson and Farrell Treacy, made their debuts at the 2018 Olympic Games both aged 22. Farrell reached the quarter final in the 1,000m event. Kathryn played a crucial role in the lead up to the Games, helping qualifying all three female spots across all three individual distances for the Games, the first time the team had ever achieved this. She followed the Olympics with a 7th place finish at the 2018 World Championships in the 500m, improving on her 15th position in 2017.

In 2017, GB Short Track Speed Skating launched its Academy, with an initial group of twelve skaters following its own talent ID search, to develop and transition 15-17 year old athletes in preparation for the World Class Programme.

Following the 2018 Olympic Games, over 500 young people signed up for talent ID opportunities, putting the sport in a strong position for the future. There was also a significant increase in general enquiries about the sport and on social media.

Jon Eley, GB Short Track Academy Manager and Olympian said,

“I really feel for the young kids of the sport who have ambitions to reach Olympic level. It’s been a privilege to lead the GB Short Track Academy with the support of the clubs across the UK and see a real growth in the talent in the sport. Sadly, without the programmes they won’t have the same pathway opportunities to fulfil their potential. There is a lot of good work happening at club level with so many volunteers giving up time for the young athletes and I believe that this will continue.  

On a personal note, I feel very honoured to have had the opportunity to live out my dreams thanks to UK Sport and the World Class Programme. It’s a sad day for the sport to know that this support will no longer be there for the current crop of young Short Track Speed Skaters.”

Michelle Draper, CEO of the National Ice Skating Association, the governing body for GB Short Track Speed Skating said,

“We are naturally disappointed with the decision, however as the National Governing Body we will continue to support and build on the amazing progress made by our athletes in this fast, exciting and growing sport.