An Olympic hopeful studying at the University of Birmingham is calling on the Government to give more financial support to up-and-coming athletes – or risk losing the gold medalists of the future.
British number two hepthathlete, Louise Hazel, is desperate to see a reform in the system that decides which sports stars receive funding.
The 24-year-old is currently receiving Lottery funding, but it was a different story two years ago when she had to deal with the misery of having the support withdrawn after a troubled season.
The Birchfield Harrier had to complete her final exams at the University of Birmingham, attempt to qualify for the Beijing Games and battle through the pain of losing her father in 2008.
But she fought back. And her main aim now is to perform on the biggest stage at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“They are creeping up now, and it’s definitely not too early to start preparing,” London-born Louise said. “It’s a massive event and I’m determined to be a part of it.”
Athletes up and down the country share her dream, but Louise is worried that funding issues are thwarting their progress.
“I hope there is a big shake-up soon because young athletes are missing out,” she added. “I got kicked off funding and then made it back onto the programme, but for others it has been a lot tougher.
“I think that people need to be given the benefit of the doubt because the line they draw between failure and success is so severe.
“I think athletes need funding support for four years if they are to achieve success at the Olympics. If you miss out on then there are very few grants available. More needs to be invested at the grassroots level, or else Great Britain will suffer.”
Hazel sees her lottery funding as an ‘unguaranteed extra’ and says without the help of her seven local sponsors she would not be able to train full-time.