Going for gold or gold gone? Britain’s medal success vital for grassroots sport, says Katherine Grainger
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Going for gold or gold gone? Britain’s medal success vital for grassroots sport, says Katherine Grainger

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The impact of investing in our athletes’ success has far-reaching benefits for the nation

Great Britain must continue to invest in elite athletes or risk damaging participation numbers nationwide, according to Dame Katherine Grainger.

The chair of UK Sport, Britain's most decorated female Olympian, has spoken out after 11 unfunded sports bodies expressed fears over the future of funding from the government and National Lottery.

“As the body charged with delivering success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire the nation, UK Sport believes that the impact of investing in our athletes’ success has far-reaching benefits for the nation,” said Grainger, who has five Olympic rowing medals.

“Olympic and Paralympic success instills a sense of national pride, ambition and achievement, that improved facilities for elite athletes benefit local communities and that hosting major sporting events inspires participation and boosts the economy.”

Last year, a survey by the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) and Perkins Slade, found that 38 per cent of women felt the 2016 Rio Olympics would encourage them to be more active and 27 per cent of men.

“Whenever people are motivated to take up sport or physical activity, it’s likely to lead to improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing and generate other benefits related to their individual development,” Grainger added.

Access to funding has become increasingly competitive – the government’s sport strategy, Sporting Future, has introduced a step-change in how success is judged and National Lottery funding is in decline.

Grainger will address the positive link between medal investment and grassroots sport at the SRA’s 2018 Fit for the Future Convention on 30 January. Hosting a panel discussion called ‘Medal success – so what?’, she will join leaders in discussing how high-performance investment has a positive impact on underrepresented groups and reach inactive people.

Emma Boggis, CEO of the SRA, said: “Sport and recreation provide the best preventative solution to many of society’s biggest challenges, but demonstrating that and making sure that this message is heard loud and clear isn’t easy.

“How our nation funds high-performing athletes has gained a lot of attention recently, so we’re delighted to welcome Dame Katherine to the Fit for the Future Convention where one of the topics we will be exploring is the important role that high-performance sport can play in getting the nation active.”

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Great Britain must continue to invest in elite athletics or risk damaging participation numbers nationwide, according to Dame Katherine Grainger.
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