A sweet Rio postscript: this (above) is Raquel Lucena and her daughter Zahra, who at the Rio Paralympics were a very vocal presence supporting Zahra Nemati, who you will remember shot in both the Olympics and Paralympics for Iran, taking a gold medal in the latter.
Raquel sent me a rather nice message and some pictures today saying that her “little Zahra” had started taking archery lessons with Renato Emilio, the Brazilian archer that competed in four Olympics for Brazil from 1980-1992. She says “I wish she could know that little Zahra and I are practicing archery with her in our hearts!!!”. (I’ll try and let her know).
UK elite archery has its UK Sport grant cut from £4.4m to £3.1m ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics after it failed to deliver a medal at London 2012 – a 29.5% decrease. This move was widely anticipated after archery failed to meet the targets (*ahem*) set for it by the Olympic funding commitee. (I wrote about the consequences of the Olympic failure earlier this year.)
This news comes only days after the news of an 133% increase in funding for archery from Sport England, the (different) government body in charge of grassroots funding of sport, which has been widely hailed as great news.
“Some of the sports held up as the biggest crowd-pleasers and legacy drivers during the London Olympics have had their funding cut altogether ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Table tennis, wrestling, handball, basketball and indoor volleyball have had their financial support withdrawn by UK Sport, while beach volleyball will receive just £400,000 over four years to fund the women’s team.
The elite-sport funding agency was forced to defend the tough decisions on minority sports, made under its “no-compromise formula” that targets public money only at genuine medal hopes, at a time when the Olympic legacy is under scrutiny.
“I think people understand that when you host a home Olympics you have to put teams out in every single sport. Bizarre though it sounds to say it now, the rationale is to drive ticket sales,” said the sports minister Hugh Robertson. “When people look at it, they know that is done on a performance basis. There is not a lot of point at this level, funding teams that are not going to qualify for the Olympics.”