UK Deaf Sport, the strategic lead agency representing deaf sport and successful deaf athletes welcomed and were encouraged by some of the findings of the UK Sport Stakeholder Consultation Report whilst at the same time being disappointed by the prioritisation placed on the findings by UK Sport Board which continue to create a system that marginalises and disadvantages deaf athletes
UK Deaf Sports remit is to support a wide range of individuals to fulfilling their potential in sport. The current ‘no compromise’ funding policy has meant the investment focus is on funding priorities for potential medal winners within the Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a consequence, athletes have been left competing in the Deaflympics (IOC recognised since 1955) without any Government backing or given any due consideration.
“Deaf athletes across the country continue to be in dire need of support, and the inclusion of Deaflympics, as part of the strategic Investment approach would ensure the way forward for recognition and equality of elite Deaf athletes.” stated UK Deaf Sports Talent Lead.
During the consultation process, UK Deaf Sport called for urgent attention to be paid to deaf athletes with talent and a burning desire to win medals on the Olympic, Paralympics and Deaflympic podiums and have pushed for their inclusion under any new investment approach so they are no longer hindered or discriminated against because of their deafness or hearing loss.
Lee Dolby, Director of Development at UK Deaf Sport said “We were particularly encouraged by the findings within the report highlighting the need to look closer at the support provided for disability sport and the recognition that the Paralympic Games does not feature a ‘Deaf’ disability category in any of its disciplines, and that the IPC are not planning to create one in the foreseeable future. The fact that the board seem to have ignored this recommendation in its statement of future priority is massively disappointing. It is therefore of critical importance that the future status and development pathways for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing athletes must not be marginalised, denying them equality of opportunity and support.”
UK Government own figures show that overall UK Sport invested £49,254,386 into Paralympics’ sport for London 2012. This will increase to £71,247,756 for Rio 2016.
UK Deaf Sport received just £134,000 Deaflympic and Talent funding grant from Sport England in 2012. This equates to just 0.19% of the amount set to be received by Rio 2016 Paralympic sports. This latest statement by UK Sport suggests that there will remain a lack of any form of investment strategy for elite Deaflympic athletes
Craig Crowley MBE, Honorary President of UK Deaf Sport said “This report and the implementation of some of the findings could, in essence, massively influence future opportunities and performance of Deaf sport and Deaf athletes of all levels in this country. Recognition by the UK Government of the Deaflympics, through UK Sport’s Investment Strategy, is the first crucial step in assuring a positive future, any future, for Deaf sport in the United Kingdom.”
Philip Gerrard, Chair of UK Deaf Sport said “We are very keen to work with UK Sport on identifying practical and financially viable solutions to the funding issues facing elite sport. We hope we can now engage in meaningful dialogue with key people within their respective organisations and work together to a mutually beneficial outcome that creates greater reasons for the nation to be proud of its athletes achievements on a world stage”
To read the full UK Sport Stakeholder Consultation finding Click Here
To read the UK Sport Board Statement Click here
To read UK Deaf Sport Deaflympics Fact Sheet Click here