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Brit Fed Pulls Plug On Awards Dinner

Oct 4, 2012  - Craig Lord

British Swimming, in the midst of a review into underperformance at the London 2012 Games and facing a cut to official funding over the coming four years, has overlooked the achievements of four medal winners at London 2012 and cancelled support for the nation's only awards ceremony for aquatic athletes in Britain.

"It is with great regret that we are announcing that The Speedo Splash Annual Awards will not be going ahead on 9th November 2012," Karen Pickering, Founder of The Splash Awards, tells SwimNews.

"Unfortunately British Swimming have withdrawn their support of this year's event and the Awards are unable to run without their financial contribution. Karen Pickering, Founder and Chairman of The Speedo Splash Awards, is hugely disappointed with this news as this was due to be the 8th year of the Awards which celebrate the achievements and raise the profile of British Swimmers and other aquatic sportsmen and women. It is a great shame not to be able to celebrate the achievements of our Olympic and Paralympic medallists to inspire the future of swimming in this country."

When Michael Jamieson missed gold at the touch in the 200m breaststroke as Daniel Gyurta (HUN) claimed the title, he was within reach of the world-record time just ahead of him. Fabulous effort, for the swimmer and coach Dave McNulty and his team at Bath too. Great work too by Rebecca Adlington and coach Bill Furniss: two bronze medals four years after double gold over 400m and 800m freestyle. That takes some guts and dedication. Then there was bronze for Tom Daley off the boards as well. There ought to have been more than than but to ignore the achievers and focus on under-achievement has left many perplexed.

Pickering received a phone call from the federation towards the end of the Paralympics: we're so disappointed with the swimmers' performances at the Olympics that there's not much to celebrate - and there are funding issues to think about, came the explanation.

"Personally I think not celebrating the good results and letting the disappointments overshadow the athletes who should be enjoying their moment is a big mistake," said Pickering. She is not alone.

The federation's explanation is that with funding under threat, it could not justify the financial support for an awards ceremony in a year that saw British swimmers fall shy of where the plan said they ought to be.

The question is: are we looking at another poor decision from blazers? Surely the thing to look at if you need to save money is not a dinner for hard-working folk who deserve a pat on the back but the allowances granted to the likes of the chief executive David Sparkes for travel, subsistence and other perks of the post.

If performance pay had been built in, the federation could and should now be in a position to say to Sparkes (and others): we're taking 20k from your pay this year because you missed your target - and fell shy big time across five Olympic sports. That 20k would have gone along way to paying for an awards dinner.

Meanwhile, the US prepares for its Golden Goggles Awards in New York. What a swell party that will be.