UK Sport chief admits solitary medal is disappointing
UK SPORT chief executive John Steele has admitted his disappointment at Great Britain's failure to achieve a target of three medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
DISAPPOINTED: UK Sport chief executive lauds Amy Williams' efforts but admits missing the medal target was disappointing (Getty Images)
Skeleton slider Amy Williams, who captured Great Britain's first individual Winter Olympic gold medal for 30 years, was the only athlete to blossom on what was otherwise a barren landscape for the 52 Brits in Vancouver.
That gold medal came at a price of £6.5m however, the total budget handed to winter sports by UK Sport, for which they outlined a target of three medals.
Three medals was an optimistic target and something the British Olympic Association was keen to distance itself from, preferring to focus on improving on their performance in Turin 2006, where Shelley Rudman's skeleton silver was all Great Britain had to show for their Italian endeavours.
Their decision to set their sights low was vindicated as Williams' gold ensures the BOA will return to home shores with their heads held high.
But there were disappointing performances in Vancouver. David Murdoch and his curling rink arrived in Vancouver as world champions but failed to reach the knock-out stages.
And bobsledders Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke also topped the world podium last year, only for a crash to scupper what were already slim medal chances, following two lacklustre opening runs in Whistler.
It must be said that in receiving £6.5m in the four-cycle for Vancouver, winter sports received just 1.5 per cent of what their summer siblings have ahead of London 2012.
But Steele believes Team GB's performance in Vancouver justifies UK Sport's funding allocations.
"Whilst missing the medal target is disappointing, I believe that the results in Vancouver have shown that the level of our funding in the winter sports is both right and proportionate in terms of opportunity and outcome," he said.
"Our experience as lead agency for strategic investment in Olympic sport tells us that it is not just about the money - but where and in who you invest it.
"We have always been true to our ‘no compromise' principle in investing only in athletes and sports who we believe have a genuine opportunity of winning medals.
"The fantastic performances by the members of the skeleton team shows this strategy does work and medals can be won if the right programmes and athletes are in place to benefit from our support and investment."
The skeleton team proved that funding does indeed pay and having received £2.1m to prepare for Vancouver, they were the most handsomely rewarded out of all the winter sports.
There are likely to be changes however. Whether curling can continue to justify its funding of £1.1m after both the men's and women's teams failed to progress from the group stages is debatable.
Short track speed skating is also among the winter sports more handsomely rewarded and without Jon Eley's sixth place in the 500m their purse strings may well have been significantly tightened.
And while Steele insists Olympic performance is not the be all and end all, the under-performing bobsledders will not be looking forward to UK Sport's next funding review.
"As is normal, we will now conduct our investment review," he added. "The margins between success and failure at the top of Olympic sport can be very small and while success at the Games is a vital component it is not the only consideration when making funding decisions."