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UK Sport’s medal approach ‘needs a rethink’, says Tanni Grey Thompson

By Matthew Campelli    28 Jul 2017
Grey-Thompson said the consideration of athletes' duty of care was important when setting medal targets

UK Sport’s ‘no compromise’ approach to funding elite sport “needs a rethink”, according Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Talking to Sports Management the former Paralympic champion said there also “needed to be a debate” about how many medals Great Britain wants to win, with more emphasis on duty of care for athletes.

“My personal view is that it’s great to win medals across a whole host of sports, but we need a debate about how many and what that looks like,” she added. “We need to look at what the cost is.”

The ukactive chair stressed that athletes must accept that elite sport is not “warm and cuddly”, but she thought that the ‘no compromise’ approach – which sees sports win funding based on medal potential and high medal targets – had an impact on the day-to-day experience of athletes and coaches.

Since Team GB and ParalympicsGB triumphed at last summer’s Rio Olympics, with 67 and 147 medals respective, a number of high-profile allegations of bullying and abuse have emerged from sports that receive UK Sport funding for their world-class programmes.

Grey-Thompson said: “We’ve proven that we can win lots of medals. Now we need to prove we can do it with a duty of care to athletes.

“There was a lot of pressure on the system to deliver medals at the London 2012 Olympics. In some sports, that created an unhealthy type of behaviour, and instead of moving a little bit away from that it’s actually becoming slightly more prevalent.”

Earlier this year, the 11-time Paralympic gold medallist published her government-commissioned report into the duty of care for athletes.

Recommendations included the appointment of a Duty of Care Guardian to every national governing body board and the establishment of a Sports Ombudsman, to hold governing governing bodies to account over duty of care issues.

Read the full interview with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson from the latest edition of Sports Management here.

UK Sport  Tanni Grey-Thomspon  duty of care 
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