Editorial: Sport funding competitive

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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Bill Begg is right. And so is Alex Baumann.

Begg, the ultra-enthusiastic promoter of inline skating, reckons top people within the sport should be eligible for national funding to allow them to compete overseas.

Alex Baumann, chief executive of High Performance Sport New Zealand (formerly Sparc), says there are far more requests for the $62 million available than can be handled, and there's no way his body will be able to please everyone.

And that includes Bill Begg, who, did we mention, is an ultra-enthusiastic promoter of speed skating.

What's really got Begg going are two examples. One, Shane Dobbin, who was a speed skater who on switching to ice skating received funding to go to the Sochi Olympics (where he finished seventh); and Peter Michael, who has won three world speed skating titles and a World Games gold but has not received a bean.

Begg sees an unfairness in that, and no doubt is fearful that other star skaters may switch wheels for blades to "follow the money".

HPSNZ has rules though. And one is that the world championship of a sport should be contested by at least 40 countries, and inline skating's doesn't.

The sport is huge in some countries, but not in enough of them. It probably also doesn't help that skating in New Zealand is strong in some centres, but again, not in many.

Everyone believes their sport to be the most important, and we'd all be able to look at HPSNZ's criteria and pick some hole in it. But it has to work to something, and being a potential Olympic or Paralympic medallist is a fair starting point. Targeted sports that can win a world championship are also eligible - but netball is the only one on the list at present.

Which rules out inline skaters. Unless ...

Unless they apply as an individual, and, of late, HPSNZ has funded a boxer, a slalom canoeist and a surfer.

So the door isn't closed.

There's another option. And that's to get inline skating included in the Olympics.

And that's not so fanciful. The sport was one of seven considered for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, but was beaten by sevens rugby and golf.

To get it over the line, what it probably needs is an ultra-enthusiastic promoter of the sport. Now who might that be?

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- The Timaru Herald

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