Olympics: Pearce fears for handball future

First published in Sport Bournemouth Echo: Photograph of the Author by

LONDON 2012 competitor John Pearce fears his days as an international handball player could be over after today’s UK Sport funding cut.

Poole-born Pearce does not expect Britain to have a handball team at the Rio 2016 Games following the decision to give them no financial backing.

UK Sport this afternoon confirmed handball as one of the Olympic disciplines to have their funding removed during the next four-year cycle.

Although a record pot of £347million will be ploughed into Team GB’s Rio preparations, Pearce and his colleagues were left very disappointed.

And he claimed the London ‘legacy’ could be compromised after minority sports such as handball, indoor volleyball and basketball saw their cash completely taken away.

Pearce told the Daily Echo: “To completely cut national team programmes for certain sports really does leave the legacy in serious doubt.

“I don’t think there is any chance of the handball team going to Rio now after this decision.

“I don’t know how that would possibly happen without any funding.”

The left winger, a former Bryanston School pupil, added: “I am really sad to say this could be probably one of the last times that I play for the national team.

“I hope it is not but I don’t see any way that could change, how we could fund doing that or what competitions we could enter.”

While Dorset volleyball Olympians Dan Hunter and Lucy Wicks also voiced their dismay, other local competitors received good news as a number of the area’s London 2012 stars celebrated a funding boost in their sports.

UK Sport announced a record amount of £347million to be ploughed in to help elite athletes in the lead up to the 2016 Games in Rio.

Wessex volleyball star Zara Dampney was pleased after seeing women’s beach volleyball gain £400,000.

Poole sisters Lucy and Kate Macgregor saw an increase in money pumped into British sailing – from nearly £23million to £24.5m.

Dorset shooter Peter Wilson, who won double trap gold in London, and eventing star William Fox-Pitt also saw their sports benefit from increases.

UK Sport said it opted to focus its funding on the sports which met their London 2012 targets, with the eventual aim of boosting Team GB’s medal tally in Rio in four years.

UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl said: “Today will be good news for some and it will be painful for others who haven’t met the criteria.

“They are very disappointed but 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.”

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