UK SPORT yesterday unveiled record funding for high performance sport with the lofty aspiration of becoming the first Olympic host nation to win more medals four years after staging the Games.
Yet in doing so they showed disturbing inconsistencies which will lead many to conclude that they have already squandered the legacy of London 2012.
Increased funding for the four years to Rio de Janeiro, from £313m to £347m, is unquestionably welcome, as are attempts to balance unfavourable discrimination against Paralympic activities. However, several sports have been abandoned, laying UKS open to claims that their "no compromise" approach risks throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Basketball, handball, table tennis, wrestling, men's water polo, indoor volleyball and Paralympic volleyball, wheelchair fencing and men's goalball have all been ditched and will receive nothing.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that UKS funding of some team sports such as basketball, volleyball, handball and water polo, was a cynical waste of money: nothing more than baubles and tinsel to tart up the Christmas tree of a home Games. It came to some £20m.
If legacy were to be served, there would be some support now to build on foundations so firmly laid in the amazing summer of 2012. Some kids considering sport options are sure to see the signs. They might go elsewhere, but perhaps they won't go anywhere, and stay at home growing fat. The closest they will come to a sports injury is repetitive strain on thumbs.
The performance chair of British Basketball, Roger Moreland, spoke of dashed aspiration "in a sport whose heartland is founded in Britain's inner cities". He is right. But there is another issue. The sport in Scotland gambled its identity by throwing in its lot with a GB team. The world body, FIBA, insisted on this as a prerequisite of allowing Britain to take part. UK Sport's actions will mute the GB's international voice in the sport to a whisper.
The funding decision is little short of betrayal. The GB men who lost by one point to the Spanish silver medallists are now heading for a third successive European Championship finals appearance. The GB women who lost on the last shot of overtime to the French silver medallists are about to make their second. Funding for these teams is now compromised.
British Volleyball Federation president Richard Callicott said the decision meant "athletes and coaches have been rewarded with the utter obliteration of the sport at elite level". He is puzzled when 30 UK men play professionally round the world, and when the women's team rose 49 places in the world rankings.
Of 19 Paralympic disciplines, only archery and powerlifting have had support reduced, though many others did not meet targets. Disability athletics is the biggest beneficiary, up by nearly £4m, from £6.73m. Wheelchair tennis has the biggest percentage gain, with support more than doubling to £1.9m.
Wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball will cease to be funded. Though sports like wheelchair basketball and rugby are among those disciplines which failed to meet medal targets, they were sympathetically treated. I have no issue with this, but consistency across the board is absent.
Wheelchair rugby, which set a Paralympic medal target but finished fourth, was delighted to learn that, despite that, funding has been increased from £2.2 to £3.02m. "UKS was very generous in its comments and recognised a transformational change and our ability to drive the sport forward," said chief executive David Pond, who sees "massive potential for development in Scotland".
Many Paralympic increases, which do not replicate ruthless cuts imposed on Olympic sports which failed to meet targets, may be seen as an acknowledgement of a notable disparity between able-bodied and disability sport: £264m against £49m in the last four-year cycle. Paralympic sport overall is up 43% on support over the last four-year cycle, while Olympic sport is up just 5%. There were 65 Olympic medals and 120 Paralympics medals in London.
Swimming, biggest victim of cuts, hopes to escape when sportscotland determine domestic funding. Failure to improve participation levels prompted grass root cuts in England. With the Scottish government locked into a three-year investment, and a participation increase which has led to one full-time position being increased to three within the governing body, the sport is hopeful government will continue support, and backing a programme to ensure every Scottish child learns to swim.
The lack of joined-up thinking in sport has rarely been more manifest, and at a time when it should have been the highest priority
An opportunity which will never return has been missed.