New Zealand's top surf lifesavers are "hurting" after having their funding slashed despite winning the world championships in Adelaide this year.
High Performance Sport NZ will dish out $330,000 to the sport over the next two years but they are no longer eligible for performance enhancement grants.
Surf Life Saving NZ high performance manager Brad Edwards said that decision would jeopardise the defence of their title in France in 2014.
"Our agreed goal with HPSNZ was to win the world championship and we not only achieved that, we did it in style, beating Australia on their own sand by more than 80 points," Edwards said.
"We're definitely hurting after this announcement - we are world champions, we've delivered the outcome HPSNZ invested in and we simply do not understand what's changed."
HPSNZ chief executive Alex Baumann said he could sympathise with the sport's frustration but he believed the funding was sufficient for a title defence.
"Absolutely and that's certainly what we looked at," Baumann said.
"We're supporting them to the tune of $330,000 and you take a look at other sports like basketball, that didn't get anything. Surf lifesaving gets campaign investment to help with competitions but it's the direct athlete support that unfortunately they will not be eligible for in the future. I have sympathy for many sports but high performance is a pretty cut-throat business."
Edwards believed the decision could lead to an exodus from the sport.
"We'll be struggling to retain our world champion athletes who did such an incredible job in Adelaide and that would be disastrous, not only for them, but also for the next generation of surf athletes coming through."
- © Fairfax NZ News