Kelly Sotherton loses funding from UK Athletics

Sotherton was part of the silver medal-winning GB 4x400m relay team at the European Indoor Championships last March

Olympic medallist Kelly Sotherton's chances of competing at London 2012 have suffered a major blow after she lost her funding from UK Athletics.

The 34-year-old, who came third in the 2004 Olympic heptathlon, was targeting a 400m place but has lost her second-tier "podium relay" funding.

A defiant Sotherton tweeted: "Nothing changes! Goals are still the same! I'm the master of my own destiny!"

Mark Lewis-Francis drops from top-level "podium" funding to podium relay.

There are three levels of funding in UKA's World Class Performance Programme.

Podium level funding is given to those athletes in contention to win medals and secure top-eight finishes at next summer's Olympics. Former Cuban Yamile Aldama and American-born Tiffany Porter have both been moved to that level.

Podium relay funding is given to athletes expected to play a part in the relay events at the Olympics, while UKA also offers development funding to promising young athletes.

Sotherton was part of the British 4x400m relay team which took silver at the 2011 European Indoor Championships, but she could only finish sixth in the 400m at the UK Championships in August.

She insisted the news "does not come as a major surprise to me and it is not a setback to my ambitions".

"I am very grateful for the support that UK Athletics has offered me up until now," she said. "Everything will continue as I had planned in the lead up to London 2012 and this decision by UK Athletics will not alter anything in my preparations.

"I still hope to compete at the Olympics next year and, once I am there, I have every confidence of producing a performance that will do myself and the nation proud."

She was coached to bronze in Athens by Charles van Commenee, who is now UKA head coach.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "The main criterion for athletes to be on the world-class performance plan is that they have a strong chance to reach the top eight in the Olympic Games.

"Given the development of Kelly's performances over the last couple of years, it doesn't indicate that that's going to happen.

"For me, personal feelings I really have to put on the side because otherwise I can't make clear decisions. Personal relationships and feelings are not relevant in this process."

Among those receiving podium level funding are world champions Mo Farah and Dai Greene, along with silver medallists Phillips Idowu, Jessica Ennis and Hannah England, and bronze medallist Andy Turner.

European Under-23 champions Holly Bleasdale (pole vault) and Jack Green (400m hurdles) are among those elevated to top-level funding.

Scott Overall's shock fifth place at the recent Berlin Marathon sees him elevated to development funding.

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