Lisa Dobriskey: Athletics funding decisions flawed

Dobriskey upbeat despite funding blow

Runner Lisa Dobriskey says the decision to only award funding to athletes who are considered realistic contenders for medals at the 2016 Olympics is flawed.

"I think it is very difficult to predict medallists for 2016 and 2017.

"If you look back to some of the medallists at the Olympics last year, they wouldn't necessarily have been predicted medallists three years out," Dobriskey told BBC East Midlands Today.

"There are a lot of people who have been left out that are equally capable of medalling at an Olympics as those that are currently funded.

"I still believe I have the potential to medal in 2016. With or without the support of British Athletics, that is still going to be my aim."

British Athletics, the body which distributes the funding received from UK Sport, has narrowed its criteria, meaning only athletes considered realistic medal contenders for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are eligible for 'podium' funding.

Previously the emphasis had been on the likelihood of making a final.

A crop of 22 athletes are now on this top-level funding, with another 16 on relay funding, while there are 44 younger athletes on lower-level 'podium potential' support who UK Sport believe could win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Dobriskey, who won silver in the 1500m at the World Championships in 2009, has missed out on funding for 2013-14, as well as fellow former world medallists Phillips Idowu, Andy Turner and Jenny Meadows.

The Ashford-born athlete, who trains in Loughborough, finished 10th in the 1500m final at London 2012.

She says missing out on support "is harsh and a difficult blow to take".

"I was upset to receive a letter to say 'We don't believe you are capable of achieving that'," she said.

"It just seems very much all or nothing, which is quite hard to deal with. I feel a bit emotional about it as it is quite personal but I have put it into perspective and I will be okay.

"To have been on funding for so long has been absolutely amazing and I am so grateful for the support from the National Lottery.

"It has made me been able to have a career in something I love to do."

Dobriskey is currently coming back from a foot problem and she believes her previous injuries, which saw her sidelined with a hip injury and diagnosed with blood clots on her lungs last year, were a factor in the decision to cut her funding.

However, she feels she should have been consulted as part of the process to award funding and that she now faces an uncertain future.

"They have made this decision based on my injury history and I haven't been involved," she added.

"I haven't once sat down with the head coach or any of the support staff this year and discussed the issue and problem I have had. I feel it has been a judgement made which has been completely out of my hands.

"I feel I could argue a case for it very strongly and I don't feel I have been given the opportunity to do it.

"As much as I appreciate it is a difficult situation for British Athletics to continue supporting somebody who is so injury-prone, I think it is a bit of a vicious circle.

"I don't really know where to go from here and get over the injury I am currently facing."