Archive for December, 2010

Gillings more determined than ever

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Zoe Gillings, Britain’s No 1 Olympic snow sports athlete today announced she is more determined than ever to again become the World No 1 snowboard cross athlete following UK Sport’s decision on Thursday to cut all funding to snowboarding from March 31st 2011.

In 2006, following Zoe’s 15th place finish at the Winter Olympics in Turn, snowboarding was allocated £248,000 by UK Sport for the next 4 year period.  Zoe received an additional Athletes personal award to put toward sporting and living costs of £13,500 per annum for the first two years and then in recognition of her success and results on the World Class podium program this was increased to £19,500 for the last two years which ended in September 2010.

Apart from the £248,000 (£62,000 per annum) that is used to put towards coaches, technician/team manager and physiotherapist when affordable, and pay for all their travel, accommodation and subsistence around the world on a 12 month basis, Zoe was provided with a full time dry land training base at the English Institute of sport at Bath University where she had daily access to a strength & conditioning coach, physiotherapist, doctor and sports psychologist.  Even with £248,000 it was extremely difficult running this program, now, Zoe will receive no funding, zero.

UK Sport released a statement, “Whilst results in Vancouver were of course taken into account, it was decided that, at present, there was not enough evidence to suggest that British Ski and Snowboard would have the programme or athletes capable of reaching the podium in Sochi in four years time or at the Winter Games in 2018.”

Zoe commented on this, “I don’t agree with that: I am capable of reaching the podium in Sochi.  I may be biased as I’m talking about myself but I believe results should do the talking.  World cup competitions in Boarder cross are the highest level of competition with all the top athletes in the World competing in these competitions.” Zoe’s World Cup rankings for the last 5 years are:-

1)      2006 – 36th in the World.

2)      2007 – 12th in the World.

3)      2008 – 7th in the World.

4)      2009 – 5th in the World.

5)      2010 – 14th in the World. (An injury sustained at the Olympics meant Zoe couldn’t fight for a World Cup ranking but finished 8th at the Olympics in any case.)

Zoe continued, “Since 2006 I have stood on the World Cup podium three times,  that was in 2008 & 2009, including a third place at the World Cup Finals in Valmalenco in 2009.  I even beat the current Olympic Gold medalist, Canadian Maelle Ricker in the 2010 Austrian Boarder cross World Cup where I finished sixth overall.”  How can I not be capable of reaching the podium?

The UK Sport website details a top 3, top 8 or top 12 finish at World Championships or Olympics for UK Sport podium funding.  Zoe has finished within this criteria both at the last World championships in 2008 and at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

Zoe commented, “There are lots of questions which I’m trying to find answers to, but the biggest is to understand how the decision has been made. I appreciate there is strict criteria on allocation of funding and if your performance is not up to scratch, then fine, but my results have improved every year since the funding began and come well within the criteria set by UK Sport on their website. Why am I not being funded?”

Zoe commented about UK Sport, “Make no Mistake about it, I may not agree with their current decision but over the past 4 years UK Sport have been the single biggest influence in my career and have allowed me to get to where I am today.  They have helped me in many ways with my World Class program including building me an indoor start gate and producing me technologically advanced equipment on the lead up to Vancouver, they are not just about finance.   They are a World Class organization and one required to take our top athletes to the podium.”

Zoe now faces uncertain times ahead but she is clear what direction she is going to take, “Even though this news is extremely demoralizing and at the moment I literally don’t know how I’m going to fund the program going forward there is absolutely no question, I will be continuing in the sport, 100 per cent.  I have faced many obstacles in the last ten years – some minor and some very serious – and even though the answer to the current funding problem is yet to be found, there is no question I will continue.”

Zoe continued, “I’ve got a few ideas that I’m currently exploring. I am contacting some high profile business men to see if they can help mentor me as I try to set up a business. Peter Jones from the Dragon’s Den and Mark Pearson from the Secret Millionaire please check your emails.  I’m now more determined than ever, if anyone out there thinks you can help, please get in touch”

“I would like to thank my major sponsors, Pokerstars, BMW and Isle of Man Sports Aid as their assistance in my program is now the most it ever has been.” Commented Zoe.

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