UK Athlete Pathway
On 1 April 2006, UK Sport became fully responsible for the elite sport performance system in England and the UK. In practise, this means that the organisation will look after the period of an athlete’s career that takes them from talent identification through to the podium. UK Sport has also taken responsibility for the strategic direction of the English Institute of Sport and the Talented Athlete Scholarship Schemes (including 2012 scholarships).
In Wales, for Olympic and Paralympic sports, the change will mean that athletes are no longer funded via the Elite Cymru scheme and will instead, be funded and supported through UK Sport and UK governing bodies.
In taking on these new responsibilities, UK Sport has redefined the terms under which funding and support will be provided and has introduced a revised performance pathway. For Olympic and Paralympic sports the new structure will replace the UK Sport World Class Performance programme, Sport England’s World Class Potential programme and the equivalent Elite Cymru programme in Wales.
World Class Podium: This programme will support sports with realistic medal capabilities at the next Olympic/Paralympic Games (ie a maximum of four years away from the podium). At this level, an assessment of realistic medal projections determines the required investment per sport using the models introduced post-Athens for Olympic and Paralympic sports. Athlete places will be distributed to a sport based on a combination of its:
- results at the last Games;
- competitive track record;
- projected medal capability in the future;
- demonstrated ability to constantly produce athletes through the pathway.
Support is provided through a performance programme with the governing body and an athlete personal award.
World Class Development: This programme is designed to support the stage of the pathway immediately beneath the Podium. It will comprise of sports that have demonstrated that they have realistic medal winning capabilities for 2012. For sports already funded by the Podium Programme their continued success will only be possible if there is investment in the next wave of talented athletes coming through the system. Olympic athletes at this level are typically six years away from the podium, whereas this timeframe may be considerably shortened for Paralympic athletes.
Other sports not yet funded at Podium Programme level, but where there is performance evidence that they have the potential to medal in the next Olympic/Paralympic cycle are eligible for consideration for funding at World Class Development level. In the period to the home Games in 2012, additionally and exceptionally, World Class Development will also embrace those sports with realistic capabilities to be competitive in 2012 but where medal achievement is unlikely.
World Class Talent: This programme is designed to support the identification and confirmation of athletes who have the potential to progress through the World Class pathway with the help of targeted investment. Funding provided through the programme will allow sports to identify the athletes with all the right attributes to ensure they can go on to compete effectively on the world stage. In addition, this programme will look to raise the level of sophistication by which sports approach the identification of new athletes and examine ways in which talent, where appropriate, can be transferred across sports. Olympic athletes will be a maximum of eight years away from the podium, but again could be much less for Paralympic athletes.
Non-Olympic/Paralympic sports will continue to be supported via the Sport Wales’ Élite Cymru scheme.