WINTER SPORTS: Extra funding could boost Wiltshire's Olympians
WILTSHIRE winter sports stars such as Shelley Rudman, John Jackson and Paula Walker are on target to set new medal records in Pyeongchang in 2018 after seeing their funding levels more than doubled by UK Sport.
Eight sports will benefit from just over £31million of investment over the next four-year cycle, an increase of over £15m from the sum which helped yield a total of 10 British medals at this year's Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.
2013 women's skeleton world champion Rudman, from Pewsey, has indicated she may attempt to reach her fourth Winter Olympics in four years time. Trowbridge-based British men's bobsleigh number one John Jackson is expected to help bring on the next generation of pilots for the next two years at least, while partner Walker, who is expecting a baby, also hopes to return after her pregnancy.
UK Sport's director of performance Simon Timson said: "I think we can safely say now that we have the best ever cohort of British Winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes, supported by the strongest set of programmes in winter sports, that we have ever had.
"That doesn't mean there aren't challenges and hard work to be done by all the athletes and the very committed staff and coaches in order to turn the ambitions that have been expressed to us into a record medal haul at the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang.
"But the fact we can say today we are aiming at a record haul in Pyeongchang is a reflection on what the sports are telling us - that we have the athletes and the programmes and we genuinely believe we have that opportunity."
Skeleton will remain the single biggest beneficiary with an award of £6,549,617, followed by £5,389,450 for curling and £4,890,326 for ski-snowboard.
Wheelchair curling, bobsleigh, figure skating, short-track and para-skiing will also receive funding towards Pyeongchang, although the reward for the latter four is contingent on strict conditions being met by the end of year one of the cycle.
Furthermore, the near £5million award to British Ski & Snowboard is presented with the caveat that it is directed solely to its slopestyle and halfpipe programmes, which yielded the nation's first medal on snow for Jenny Jones in Sochi, plus a number of other notable performances.
Timson added: "It is a reflection on the considerable success headlined by Jenny Jones' medal and a fifth place for James Woods while carrying a significant injury.
"We have a real cohort of talented athletes here and we have a real opportunity to cement our place at the forefront of the world order in snowboard, and we are very excited to be working with British Ski & Snowboard to make that happen."
British athletes matched the nation's best medal count at a Winter Games with four in Sochi, while the nation's six Winter Paralympic medals included a first gold courtesy of para-skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans.
ends Page 2: 16:04 Minister for Sport Helen Grant said: "It's fantastic news that UK Sport is doubling their investment in our winter Olympic and Paralympic teams.
"This recognises the hard work put in by our athletes who brought home a record medal haul from Sochi. We are now in a great place to break more records and deliver more medals at PyeongChang 2018."
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