With the almost farcical Rio Olympics Games now a fading memory and with more controversy than one could imagine is it now not time for the minority sports to start getting a fair share of the investment from the off-centre powers that be?
Firstly let’s look at the investment that Sport Ireland has put forth for Olympic Sports and Athletes over the last four years. Prepare yourself to be shocked at the amount because for the small team of 77 athletes the Irish taxpayer has forked out a total of €31,191,471 in High Performance funding alone! This does not take into account the Core or Women in Sport funding which is many millions more. And of course we have to add in the Carding investment (while also subtracting the Paralympics funding) and we are left a whopping €36,091,471 in investment for this Olympic Cycle. So with 2 silver medals coming home from the Games that’s a bargain price of €18 million per medal!
I can hear some of you saying now “Ah but that’s pennies in comparison to the likes of GB” and yes I would agree completely. So let’s take a look at GB and their investment/output ratio. The GB High Performance funding for the Rio Games totalled £274 million which is €320 million. Whaaaat?? Yep that is a serious amount of money. But look at the medals they brought home. With 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze medals they finished second place overall with a staggering 67 medals. So in essence they got their medals for an average of €4.7 million a pop – that’s almost 4 times less than what we paid for ours. Something sound right to you?
“Oh but it’s not all about one event or the Olympic Games, I mean we win plenty at European and World Championships” I hear you say. And I say exactly! So if it’s not all about the Olympics why is that we as kick boxers are ear bashed with this line over and over again from the top administrators in this country’s sport? I think it’s a disgrace that we have not received a single cent in High Performance funding and we have to pay out of our pocket to represent our country. I certainly can say I train extremely hard, I’m one of the best in my sport world-wide and I too have won medals at European and World Championship. Sport Ireland are clearly very proud of the 567 medals that our countries athletes have won (and rightly so) since 2002 across Major Championships so why are my medals not recognised like those from other sports? Makes no sense to me.
With all of the controversy surrounding the alleged corruption in sport at the moment my view is that there is plenty of money to go around to all our high performers. That €36 million is more than enough but the issue lies with the management of these funds and the decision making around where they are distributed. With our elite junior and cadets taking to the mats in a couple of days time at the World Championships I think it’s unacceptable that we cannot financially support these guys as they are clearly the future. Not only that, but I sincerely hope that in the not too distant future kickboxing will be part of the Olympic Games and I am so confident that Ireland will be a banker for medals once this happens.
With us consistently finishing top 3 in senior world medals tables it clearly shows that we know enough about winning without the financial backing but it sure would make life a hell of a lot easier to have the respect, dignity and support that funding brings with it.