Funding agency may spoil sports' party

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 12/09/2012
MOVE TO AN EIGHT? London Olympians Hamish Bond, Mahe Drysdale and Eric Murray.
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS: London Olympians Hamish Bond, Mahe Drysdale and Eric Murray.

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There are always disappointed sports when government funding announcements roll around, but expect more than usual this December.

On the back of a record-equalling medal haul of 13 at the London Olympics, followed by a hugely successful Paralympic campaign in which New Zealand claimed five more medals than their tally of 12 in Beijing, demands are going to be as high as ever when sports bodies present their funding applications to High Performance Sport New Zealand in November.

Problem is, HPSNZ, the taxpayer-funded agency charged with dividing up a heck of a lot of money ($180 million during the last four-year Olympic cycle), doesn't have any more money to play with, not until 2014 at the earliest.

Success breeds success, but so does money. And there are going to be plenty of worthy arguments presented by a plethora of sports - rowing, cycling, sailing, equestrian and Paralympics New Zealand to name a few - on why they should get a larger slice of the same pie.

That's not to mention non-Olympic sports such as rugby which, with sevens entering the programme for the Rio Olympics, will also have a good claim.

It's a prospect that draws a wry chuckle from HPSNZ chief executive Alex Baumann. "It's a good thing, don't get me wrong, but it does provide some challenges," he said, confirming the budget for next year would be no greater than this year.

"We're always hopeful of getting more resources but we have to make sure we prioritise effectively with the resources we currently have.

"And when you have successful programmes - rowing for example - once you get more and more success, the programmes cost more going forward.

"The same goes for the Paralympic campaign, I'm sure it will be more expensive, the next four years," he said.

Individual organisations are preparing their submissions, looking at plans, athletes, coaches, facilities, structures, and gaps in programmes that need to be filled as they propose the level of investment they believe they should receive.

Those submissions are made in November and HPSNZ will then make recommendations to the board, with announcements in December on funding for next year and beyond.

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