independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Athletics: Sports Council to cut grants of sick and injured athletes

ATHLETES who didn't hit their agreed performance targets last year because they were injured or sick will find themselves cut from the Irish Sports Council's (ISC) individual grant system next year.

The Sports Council will show no sympathy when they reveal their revamped 'carding' scheme today, which includes a stipulation that sports can no longer make special cases for injured or ill athletes.

Previously, if governing bodies made a representation on behalf of athletes who had underperformed due to injury or illness, they often retained some level of 'carding'.

But, for 2013 at least, no exceptions will be made and the Sports Council is telling national governing bodies to use their own annual core funding to support such athletes until their performances are good enough to get them back on the 'carding' scheme again.

The ISC, whose London Olympic review will not be published until January, is treating 2013 as a transitional year in the implementation of their new support systems, so some tweaking could be made to the system in the coming Olympic cycle.

The Irish Independent also understands that the previous performance bonuses that the ISC has offered since 2006, which were as high as €10,000 for some medal winners (it was based on a percentage of the successful athlete's grant that season), are about to be dropped.

And there could yet be changes in the level of grants for some Ulster sports stars, as the ISC appears to be keen to avoid some of the double funding that occurs when athletes also get substantial support through the Sports Council of Northern Ireland.

It is believed that this change, like many others, will be made on a phased basis.

One set of athletes who will definitely not suffer in the radical revamp are Ireland's top boxers who, on the strength of bringing back four medals from London, will continue to receive the top level of individual funding, which was €40,000 last year.

It is believed that the Sports Council even offered additional incentives to ensure that the likes of Katie Taylor and John Joe Nevin remained in the amateur ranks.

But elsewhere, with sport funding expected to be hit by Budget cuts next month for the third year running, the 'carding' scheme has had its expected overhaul and the ISC looks more intent than ever on focusing its elite funding on those sports and athletes who are proven medal winners.

One other significant change is that the 'carding' scheme – which has been administered by the Sports Council in recent years – is being handed back to the national governing bodies to dole out themselves.

Considerable

Elsewhere a considerable number of young Irish athletes have qualified for tomorrow's NCAA cross-country nationals in Louisville, several of whom should also figure on the Irish team for next month's European Championships.

David Rooney (McNeese University) and Breandan O'Neill (Florida State) both finished an impressive second at their regional championships with DSD's O'Neill given the same time as the winner.

Waterford's Shane Quinn was third in his region where his Providence College team-mate Sarah Collins, the Cork/ Swiss girl who runs for Finn Valley and is the current Irish junior champion, was second.

Mullingar's Jake Byrne, who was eighth individually, has also qualified as he helped his Iona team win their regional title.

And Arkansas' team victory in the same region means that Clonliffe's David Flynn (23rd individually) will also be racing in Louisville tomorrow in the blue riband of US collegiate cross-countries.

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