LONDON, England, October 15 – Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe is to lose her lottery funding as UK Athletics (UKA) targets success at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by investing in up-and-coming young stars.
UKA removed the veteran from its World Class Performance Programme to make way for athletes seen as contenders for gold medals and podium places in four years’ time.
“A significant number of athletes have exited the programme as they are not deemed to be medal contenders in 2016 or because they have not met agreed performance targets for the previous year,” UKA said on its website.
Radcliffe, 38, missed the London Olympics with a foot injury while her only marathon in the past four seasons came at Berlin, where she finished third. She set the women’s world record of 2hrs 15mins 25secs at the 2003 London Marathon.
But she said in a series of posts on her Twitter account @paulajradcliffe that the withdrawal of funding would have no impact on her immediate future.
“Just to clarify I am very grateful for the support Lottery Funding gives us athletes and fully expected to see it withdrawn,” she wrote on the micro-blogging site.
“From the beginning I have only ever received medical support, which is of course significant and vital. Since funding came in, I have seen …big differences in the depth and strength of all our sports.
“Retirement is definitely not in any plans! I’m not doing all this cross training and getting this foot healthy and strong for nothing!”
Among those being vaulted into the UKA list for top tier funding are Olympic high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz and Paralympic T44 100m champion Jonnie Peacock alongside world junior sprint champion Adam Gemili.
UKA performance director Neil Black was quoted as saying: “Being part of the World Class Performance Plan is a privilege and not a right and athletes selected will be expected to fulfil tough performance criteria.
“We have identified a very talented group of athletes for support over the coming year and I am confident that we can build on the success of the last Olympic and Paralympic cycle starting with the European Indoors in Gothenburg in March.”
Others who lost out include marathon runner Mara Yamauchi, sprinters Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis, European 400m hurdles champion Rhys Williams, European 800m silver medallist Michael Rimmer and Commonwealth 1500m bronze medallist Steph Twell.
The funding is allocated across different levels with the top tier for medal hopes, the next tier for top eight Olympic or world finishers and then the third tier for athletes seen as potential top eight material.
Two further development levels of funding exist for potential stars at upcoming World Championships and the 2020 Games.