Five Factors Behind Britain’s Rio Medal Rush

Published on August 17th, 2016

By Owen Gibson, The Guardian
1) The National Lottery
Lottery money, an often-cruel focus of winning rather than just competing and a determination to be the best is bringing in the medals. It’s unlikely Max Whitlock was thinking of Sir John Major, the former Conservative prime minister, as he stood on the podium on Sunday as Britain’s first gymnastics gold medalist. But it was Major who decided, after the humiliation in Atlanta when Britain came home 36th in the medal table, beneath Kazakhstan for example, with one gold, to divert National Lottery funding into elite sport. The move was far from universally popular at the time, but has had a lasting effect. The percentage has increased over time and a fifth of all the money spent by National Lottery players now goes to sport.

Under the coalition government, the amount of UK Sport’s funding that comes from the Lottery rather than the exchequer also increased (it now stands at around 75/25), with the effect that the funding formula is less likely to be unpicked when the Treasury comes looking for savings. There has also been an attempt of late to persuade athletes to talk up the link with the National Lottery and reinforce the link between buying a ticket and winning medals.

2) No compromise culture
Of all the buzz phrases that have echoed around the offices of UK Sport since it began investing heavily into those sports most likely to win medals, these words are the most commonly heard. It means that cash has been targeted at those sports most likely to bring podium places. The £350m invested in Olympic and Paralympic sport over the current four-year cycle is aimed at one thing: winning medals. – Read On.

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