Handball Olympian’s funding fury

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Chris McDermott playing for Team GB © Michael Barnett

Merseyside Olympian Christopher McDermott has spoken to JMU Journalism about the “ongoing battle” to fund his 2016 Olympic dream.

The 23-year-old London 2012 handball player, who hails from Birkenhead, faces the possibility of not making the Rio Games in four years’ time after the UK Sport agency announced possible funding cuts for various Olympic sports.

Speaking to JMU Journalism, Chris said: “It looks likely we won’t be getting any funding at all. It’s sad because, the public have fallen in love with the sport; I get messages asking how to start up playing every day.

“We’ve fulfilled the ‘Inspire a Generation’ mission statement. Why are we being left out of funding?” he asked.

As the likelihood of a funding crisis looms, Team GB’s Handball team has taken to Twitter to appeal for backing with some success according to Chris, who said: “We’re all individually doing things to fund our day-to-day training costs. We’ve all had a great response from social media. Last week, one user donated £200 to one of my team-mates.”

England v Argentina at this year’s Olympics © Diamond Geezer/Flickr

The ‘strong possibility’ of funding cuts comes after UK Sport’s funded training centre was disbanded, meaning Christopher has moved around Europe in order to keep practising his sport. He has lived in Germany, Slovenia, Iceland and Denmark pursuing his sporting dreams.

He revealed: “My travels haven’t always gone to plan, In Slovenia I was evicted from my flat and I had no money- all because I was training and playing there.

“When I was in Denmark, in order to get enough money to continue to play, I worked as a painter and decorator”

To cover his training expenses, Chris needs around £3,000 per year, meanwhile UK Sport gives around £20,000-£30,000 per year to its elite athletes.

“Team sports are hit the hardest. We are in a catch-22 situation where they say we need to win medals to secure funding, but how are we supposed to win medals if we’ve got no money to train?” said Chris, who currently plays for Icelandic Team Afturelding.

A UK Sport spokesperson gave a statement to JMU Journalism, which said: “Our strategic investment decisions, and our continued support of sports through the Rio cycle, will predominantly be based on the extent to which the sports can illustrate a clear vision to sustain or improve performance on the Olympic and Paralympic stage.”

Team GB did not win any of its handball matches at London 2012.

The final decision regarding Olympics sports funds allocation will be made in December, with the new funding cycle beginning in January.

About Josh Parry, JMU Journalism