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Olympics: Hunter slams UK Sport after funding slashed
GUTTED Dan Hunter accused UK Sport of ruining volleyball’s London 2012 legacy and blasted: “All of our hard work has been for nothing.”
Hunter last night slammed the decision to strip indoor volleyball of its elite funding after the announcement of where a record pot of Olympic cash would be spent during the four-year cycle ahead of Rio 2016.
From the £347million purse, the sport was left with just £400,000 – all of which has been set aside for women’s beach volleyball.
While many of his fellow Olympians were celebrating a monetary boost in their disciplines, Poole-born ace Hunter was left furious.
He told the Daily Echo: “While I understand you have got to give money to sports that got medals, I don’t understand how you can just throw out everybody else.
“I am absolutely gutted. I really don’t know what to do. We have got nothing – we haven’t got a legacy from this Olympics now.
“We wasted three months waiting for this decision and, now it has come, we have got nothing.”
Together with Poole’s Lucy Wicks and Wessex new boy Ben Pipes, Hunter overcame major funding cuts to represent Team GB in indoor volleyball at London 2012.
But their chances of following that with a Rio appearance were dealt a crushing blow when UK Sport confirmed its decision to pump cash into the sports which excelled in London.
UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl said: “I think some of these sports have to improve their base, their competition structure, and drive up competition before they can really compete for medals at a world level.”
Hunter said: “We weren’t asking for £30million like cycling. We were asking them to give us a chance so we could put together a five or six-year plan for future Olympics and then maybe we could get medals.
“All of our hard work has been for nothing.”
Hunter predicted that volleyball could be forced to revert to a home nations format and warned that players could quit the sport.
Asked if he would continue playing, Hunter admitted: “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
The UK Sport decision came after Sport England handed volleyball £5.1 million for grassroots development.
Hunter added: “The grassroots sport is there for 14 to 25-year-olds and that is great but if they are going to get to 25 and there is no GB team to aim for, where are they going to go next?”
Wicks tweeted that she felt “totally let down yet again”.
Bournemouth handball star John Pearce also expressed his disappointment after his sport’s funding was slashed to zero.