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Who might appeal following British Athletics’ funding announcement?

Mo Farah at the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games 2015. Photo: Morris Fox/Myvision4reel

Mo Farah at the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games 2015. Photo: Morris Fox/Myvision4reel

British Athletics have announced those who will benefit from National Lottery funding for the 2017-2018 season as part of the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP). The headline news saw 2015 world silver medallist Shara Proctor and 2013 world bronze medallist Tiffany Porter removed from podium funding with hammer thrower Nick Miller and distance runner Callum Hawkins added and Mo Farah still on funding despite retiring from the track as he transitions to the marathon.

The debate on who should and who should not get funding is always quite vociferous with arguments over inconsistencies and why some are ‘only’ on relay funding and not individual and so on. On the latter point, it should be mentioned that contrary to popular belief, the highest level of relay funding actually matches the highest level of funding for individuals. This means the likes of Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who has been added to the relay funding pool, is likely to receive the same as many individual podium-funded athletes. Having said all this, who can consider themselves unlucky not to be receiving any funding at all?

Laura Weightman was surprisingly taken off podium funding, despite making the last two Olympic finals, and following that with a very impressive sixth place finish in London. This has not seen her return to the WCPP however.

There seems to be a bit of a vacuum for those who have been in the British Athletics system for a while, who are deemed to be unlikely to improve enough to be a ‘realistic potential medallist’, but who still perform at a high level. This doesn’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) refer to age, but there seems to be a pattern that if you are in your late 20s and have not won a global medal, then you will not be considered to have the ‘potential’ to do so in future.

This could be applied to the Chris O’Hares of the world as well, who despite making the World Championship final this year receives no funding, while some who did not even make the team are still on the ‘potential’ level of funding.

Injuries seems to have affected many of those who are no longer on the potential level of funding with Isobel Pooley, Lucy Hatton, Kate Avery, Shona Richards and Meghan Beesley taken off entirely and being replaced with young talents such as Tom Gale, Niamh Emerson, Taylor Campbell and Callum Wilkinson.

The likes of Pooley or Beesley may feel hard done by, especially Meghan, who recovered from a bad injury in 2016 to make the semi-finals of the World Championships. There is however good news for Dewi Griffiths, whose fantastic recent marathon debut has been rewarded with a place on the programme.

A lot of the potential appeals could come from those previously on relay funding. Aikines-Aryeetey has already tweeted that he will be appealing and Anyika Onoura and Margaret Adeoye seem likely appealers having consistently been in relay squads for many years. Again, younger names like Reece Prescod, Cameron Chalmers, Finette Agyapong and Imani Lansiquot have been rewarded for their promise.

What about Tiffany Porter and Shara Proctor? Having been removed from podium funding, there is perhaps the belief from British Athletics that they are unlikely to get back to medal winning form for 2019 and 2020. The difficulty comes in the evidence that anything can happen at a championships - as we saw in London - so can we really rule anyone out of being a ‘potential medallist’, particularly those who have previously done so? Would Kelly Holmes have been considered a ‘potential medallist’ in Athens, despite a career full of injuries and being 34?

Eilish McColgan was originally left off last year, but successfully appealed and proved that decision right by setting numerous PBs on the way to finishing 10th at the World Championships, as well as overtaking some of her mum’s best times. So, there is recent precedent to suggest there may be successful appeals, meaning we probably haven't heard the end of this just yet.

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