17 Dec 2010

Swimming, canoe racing given conditional funding

8:23 pm on 17 December 2010

New Zealand's swimming and canoe racing campaigns for the 2012 London Olympics are under threat.

The Government's sports funding body, Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) is withholding funding while the codes try to resolve management problems.

SPARC on Friday announced its high-performance funding for the next two years. Overall, funding is up almost $4 million on this year, with the Government's total investment in high-performance sport now $27.4 million.

Swimming is budgeted to receive $1.65 million a year for the next two years, but SPARC is guaranteeing only $825,000 for the next six months.

SPARC high-performance general manager Marty Toomey says the rest of the funding is subject to an independent review being undertaken by the end of April 2011 and its subsequent recommendations being implemented.

There are have been coaching problems in the sport.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Moss Burmester, who retired after this year's Delhi Commonwealth Games, has been critical of the coaching structure, saying Swimming New Zealand no longer has athletes' best interests at heart.

Mr Toomey says the funding until the end of June means swimmers can keep training and competing while issues within the sport are addressed.

Swimming New Zealand chief executive Mike Byrne says the review's 30 April deadline is probably achievable, with the right people.

Canoe racing funding

SPARC says the $900,000 earmarked for canoe racing in 2011 is subject to confirmation of its coaching structure and ensuring that the right environment for all athletes in the national squad.

The sacking of national coaches Sir Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald, Sir Ian's fractious relationship with former world champion Ben Fouhy, and insolvency issues has also contributed to SPARC putting a rider on funding.

Sir Ian told Checkpoint the management did not perform to the level it should have and some "rather large mistakes" were made in the selection policy this year.

He continues to coach his son, Steven Ferguson, who dominated the national regatta earlier in December, and says he believes most of the athletes would want him.

Sir Ian says he is a huge asset to canoeing, not the problem.

Big winners

Rowing, cycling, equestrian and Paralympics are the major winners in the funding round.

Rowing gets an increase of $800,000 in 2011 and in 2012, meaning it will receive $4.32 million a year, in the wake of the sport winning seven medals at the World Championships at Lake Karapiro in November.

Bike New Zealand, which includes road, track, BMX and mountain bike, will get an extra $500,000 a year, receiving $4.085 million in 2011 and 2012.

Winter sport receives $900,000 in 2011 and 2012, rising to $1.3 million in 2011 and $1.5 million in 2012 if the disciplines of freeski halfpipe, snowboard slopestyle and freeski slopestyle are added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

Equestrian will receive increased funding for its eventing programme, rising from $525,000 this year to $900,000 in 2011, and $1 million in 2012, ahead of the London Olympics.

Paralympics New Zealand funding doubles. Next year, it will receive $1.4 million and $1.5 million in 2012 - an increase from $650,000 this year.