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Baseball will feature at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Extra Innings: Door remains open for Baseball Olympic funding

12/09/2016, 2:00pm GMT
By GB Baseball Staff

UK Sport delays Tokyo 2020 investment decision to December 2017

UK Sport, the agency that funds Olympic sports and athletes in Britain, has announced that no money has been allocated to baseball or softball national team programmes for the Tokyo Olympic cycle – but the door has been left open to review that decision in a year’s time.

Baseball returns for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Baseball - and possibly Great Britain - is returning for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

A number of sports are facing disappointment after what UK Sport described as their “toughest decisions yet”. The government has recently promised increased funding to make up for a shortfall in Lottery income, which means UK Sport will be preparing sports for Tokyo with almost the same amount of money it had for Rio. Today's figures show a modest drop of £2m to £345m across Olympic and Paralympic sports. A further £9m is yet to be allocated. The recipients could include GB Baseball and Softball.

Due to the monumental success of Team GB in the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016, hauling in their greatest total in history, there will be more medal winners to fund for Tokyo than expected, against a background of rising costs. As a result, only those sports and athletes with proven medal success or the greatest medal potential have received funds in today’s allocations. Archery, badminton, fencing and weightlifting all lost their investment.

What You Need to Know

 

  • Great Britain Baseball & Softball have not been granted Olympic funding for the next calendar year
  • UK Sport will review their decision in December 2017, and will allocate their funding based on the perceived chances of GB winning a medal at Tokyo 2020
  • £9m of investment remains to be allocated out of total pool of £345m
  • Initial decision described as 'Not Unexpected.' BSUK remains 'cautiously optimistic' on securing funding
  • Great Britain Baseball & Softball was successful in its last funding attempt in 2004, and narrowly missed out on Olympic qualification

A number of sports are facing disappointment after what UK Sport described as their “toughest decisions yet”. The government has recently promised increased funding to make up for a shortfall in National Lottery income, which means UK Sport will be preparing sports for Tokyo with same amount of money it had for Rio. The latest figures show a modest drop of £2m to £345m across Olympic and Paralympic sports. A further £9m is yet to be allocated. The recipients could include GB Baseball and Softball.

Due to the monumental success of Team GB in the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016, hauling in their greatest total in history, there will be more medal winners to fund for Tokyo than expected, against a background of rising costs. As a result, only those sports and athletes with proven medal success or the greatest medal potential have received funds in today’s allocations. Archery, badminton, fencing and weightlifting all lost their investment.

Definitive Judgement

On the other hand, because baseball and softball (along with karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing) will all be new sports in Tokyo, UK Sport has accepted that there has not been time to make a definitive judgement on their medal potential. Final funding decisions for these sports will be made in December 2017. This presents Great Britain Baseball with an opportunity to showcase its progress in recent years, including the implementation of the strategic directive, The GB Way.  

GB Baseball Head Coach Liam Carroll, who helped prepare the funding submission, said: “Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is outlined in our vision, and the key to unlocking our potential is investment.  

“I’m pleased that UK Sport has left the door open, and building on our success in 2016, we look forward to the opportunity to impress upon them that getting behind Great Britain Baseball can extend their tremendous track record of investing in Olympic medal contenders."

Carroll pointed to the upcoming U23 European Championships — the first of its kind — as an ideal opportunity for GB Baseball to evidence its upward trajectory.

“The U23s will be a tremendous measure of where we stack up,” he continued. “Assuming we secure A Pool status, it will mean all our teams will be in the top tier of European baseball, with the U15s knocking on the door.”

His comments follow a successful 2016 for Team GB, which included second place for the U18s in European Championships, consecutive wins to round out the Senior European Championships, and most recently, a victory against World Ranked #17, Brazil, in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier (WBCQ) en route to the final.   

The U23 squad would likely include pitchers Nolan Bond and Paul Kirkpatrick, who represented GB in the WBCQ. Bond was one of only two pitchers to appear in multiple games. For the Euros, the organisation would seek further reinforcements from the Pro Leagues.

“If these guys, as we expect them to, are competing on level terms with the best players from the European elite," Carroll concluded, "They’ll be even more formidable come Tokyo.”

Nolan Bond

Nolan Bond, one of Great Britain's emerging talents

Medal Potential

One of the lynchpins of both the baseball and softball funding applications was the demonstrable impact of previous funding for the 2008 Olympics, when baseball last appeared at the games. In 2007, backed by UK Sport investment, the team recorded their joint-highest ever European Championship finish, second place, narrowly missing out on a Beijing berth. The recent funding application stipulated that now, due to the strong pipeline of development, including infrastructure, coaching and access to talent, Great Britain, if granted funding, would be in a materially stronger position than 2007.

In an email to BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK), who managed the funding submission process for baseball and softball, UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said: “We have to continue to prioritise our investment to support our best medal potential. So the same amount can no longer reach every athlete and every sport with medal potential. This means we cannot fund all the sports that have submitted investment proposals to us….  

“However, in discussing the ‘new’ Olympic and Paralympic sports for Tokyo, our Board agreed that … investment should be formally considered as part of the 2017 Annual Investment Review, when there should be greater clarity on the competition format and qualification process for each sport … [and whether] significant progress has been made by either team.”

Still in Play

Both GB Softball and GB Baseball reacted to today’s announcement with cautious optimism.

Bob Fromer, who prepared softball’s funding submission to UK Sport on behalf of the BSF and the GB Management Committee said that while today’s decision was "not unexpected," the opportunities for the GB women’s Junior and Senior Softball teams to excel in the next summer’s European Championships would be instrumental in building an ironclad case for funding. The women’s Junior team won the European Championships this year, and the Senior team are currently ranked 14th in the World, after finishing second among European nations at the World Championships in July.

John Boyd, Joint CEO of BSUK, who submitted the funding applications, emphasized the opportunity to participate in Tokyo: “We will focus our attention over the next year on demonstrating further that our sports have a chance to medal in Tokyo.  The opportunity for Great Britain to compete in what is likely to be a pinnacle event, hosted by the most enthusiastic baseball and softball nation in the world, is one that should not be missed.  

"We believe that Great Britain has a shot at the podium, and we hope to capture UK Sport’s and this country’s imagination about that incredible possibility.”

Gerry Perez, the recently elected President of the British Baseball Federation, added:
“We have started the path to reach our goal  qualification for Tokyo  with a good showing internationally this summer. In between now and 2020, securing UK Sport investment is an important milestone.

"Just like we have no doubt that we are getting to Tokyo, we must remain optimistic and overcome challenges and delays in securing investment."

A meeting between UK Sport officials and BSUK has been scheduled for January, at which further clarification will be sought on the timetable for re-examining cases next year. The meeting will also cover what help and support UK Sport can offer to baseball and softball in the meantime, including sports science expertise from the English Institute of Sport, and support in developing strategic plans for Olympic qualification.

Extended Coverage

BBC: Tokyo 2020 - Five Sports lose funding

Liam Carroll comments on what the funding opportunity means for British baseball

BBC: Jake Esch and Georgina Corrick among 'Ones to Watch'

Great Britain's leading lights are put under the spotlight

BBC: How the quest for Toyko 2020 began

Coach Carroll's plan from 2015

What happened in 2012?

See how our sports were funded four years ago

UK Sport website

See the full funding breakdown

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