When it was first announced surfing was heading for the Olympics, there were excited mutters among some members of the British surf community that our sport may finally secure some national funding from UK Sport.
Canoeing is getting £19 million in preparation for Tokyo 2020, rowing £30 mill, even curling got £5.5 mill in the run up to PyeongChang, surely it’s about time surfing got some too.
Such funding would not only ensure that our national athletes had the resources they needed to focus on surfing, but increase the standard of coaching across the board, allow greater access to the sport for those from poorer backgrounds and create a clear pathway for anyone looking to make a career out of surfing.
Today however, those dreams came crashing down. In light of the ISA’s announcement last week, detailing how Olympic qualification would work, the various British surfing governing bodies released the following statement regarding funding:
“We have made submissions of funding requests and submission of all relevant data to UK Sport. On extensive analysis, UK Sport believe it is currently unlikely that currently any British surfer will win a medal in Tokyo 2020. UK Sport investment is wholly focused on medal winning performances to inspire our nation.
It is also yet to be confirmed if surfing will be in the 2024 and 2028 Olympics which also makes attracting investment into surfing a challenge. We will continue to collectively work to source performance funding.”
Indeed, UK Sport wouldn’t have had to undertake very ‘extensive analysis’ to realise that we aren’t likely to land on the podium, and now a more pertinent question seems to be whether Britain is likely to qualify at all.
The first 10 spots in the men’s and 8 spots in the women’s will be taken up by CT surfers, and any others from the CT looking to name the remaining 10 male and 8 female spots will have to compete in the ISA’s. A Brit would have to finish in the top ranks of the ISA’s to be in with a shout, which is not something we’ve managed to do in recent years, even without any CT surfers on the roster. There’s one spot for the top rated male and female from Europe, meaning if France and Portugal hit their 2 person quotas through methods further up the qualifying hierarchy (namely top 10 in the CT and top 4 2019 ISA’s) and we could place higher than the Spanish, Dutch, Germans and Italians, we could get in that way. There are various other complex scenarios in which we could qualify, but basically it’s not looking good.
Maybe it’s time to renounce the whole thing and over-commercialised rubbish and pretend we were never bothered about getting in the first place?