UK Sport cuts: Badminton Scotland chief pleads for government intervention

Badminton medallist Kirsty Gilmour
Kirsty Gilmour will lose Olympic funding despite being a Commonwealth Games medallist

Badminton Scotland has called for government intervention after UK Sport confirmed funding cuts to seven sports.

Appeals against the cuts for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic cycle were rejected by the parent body.

And Badminton Scotland chief executive Anne Smillie said it could devastate the career of European silver medallist Kirsty Gilmour, among others.

"It is is a major set-back to the sport and the government should intervene to overturn it," said Smillie.

Powerlifting was successful in its appeal, but archery, goalball, fencing, table tennis, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby will also receive no funding.

"The situation of Kirsty Gilmour shows the impact from a Scottish perspective," said Smillie.

"She is a Commonwealth Games and European Championships silver medallist who reached a world ranking of 15 to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

"Her goal was to continue her development and mount a serious challenge for a medal in Tokyo.

"To do this she had a personal award from UK Sport to allow her to train full time and a competition budget to allow her to compete all over the world to gain the necessary points.

"All of this has now been taken away yet Kirsty's costs associated with training every day and competing around 20 times a year all over the world must still be met."

Badminton Scotland will continue to financially support Gilmour, but Smillie questioned the UK Sport decision.

"I see no justification for leaving an Olympic medal winning sport with no funding whatsoever, especially when sports that didn't win medals or reach their targets have retained their funding," she said.

Wheelchair competitor Mike Kerr
Mike Kerr says the wheelchair rugby players will be devastated by the news

"UK Sport's reasoning that badminton is unlikely to win a medal in Tokyo and that our GB players need to be more consistent against the very best in the world is a poor excuse.

"Badminton won a men's doubles medal in Rio: a shock result because it wasn't the medal chance that had been predicted but less of a shock to those who know the quality of the badminton programme.

"Badminton exceeded its targets, has a strong pathway and has a strategic plan which was approved by UK Sport.

"Where there is a robust system in place, 'shock results' are always possible."

Former GB wheelchair rugby captain Mike Kerr, who is transitioning to athletics, was also fearful of the impact on his former team-mates.

"I am absolutely gutted for the players," he told BBC Scotland. "They will be absolutely devastated by the news.

"It is going to have a massive impact on the guys. A lot of the guys rely on this funding for training.

"It's a very expensive sport to play - equipment costs, training costs and travelling to and from training."

GB wheelchair rugby chief executive David Pond was also "incredibly disappointed".

"I think we put up a very strong case, which was listened to by the board, and so we're slightly surprised that the decision has actually stayed as it was," he said.

"In terms of what it means for the sport, unless we can find another source of funding, and it has to be a significant source of funding, then it's very difficult to see how we can have a competitive team at all that goes towards Tokyo.

"It feels to me like a real betrayal of the London 2012 legacy. We've been one of the real success stories of that and this feels like a real kick in the teeth."

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