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Rio results reflected in NZ sports funding

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/12/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

Athletics, canoe racing and sailing have reaped the rewards of successful Olympic campaigns by winning the biggest increases in funding from High Performance Sports New Zealand.

Athletics funding is up $375,000 for 2017 after winning four medals at the Rio Games, the same tally won by sailing (up $250,000) while canoe racing won two (up $325,000).

The biggest cuts come to sports which under-performed in Rio - most notably triathlon and cycling (both down $500,000), and swimming (down $400,000).

Core investment into sports bodies will be $34.97 million, up by nearly $400,000 on 2016.

It is the first year of a funding cycle which will end at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The funding will be employed for high performance purposes and is separate from grants for specific athletes.

Chief executive Alex Baumann made no apologies for the continued approach of basing its funding levels primarily on results.

It was, he says, one key reason for New Zealand's record haul of 18 medals at the Rio Olympics.

"This is a proven approach that we are confident will achieve the best possible results in Tokyo and across targeted world championships," Baumann said.

"A few who have not met either our or their own expectations have had reductions, however we will continue to work closely with them."

Baumann says athletics and sailing, in particular, had demonstrated strong development and high performance programmes which pointed towards the potential for further success.

Canoe racing's increase will go towards a new centralised programme in Karapiro, Baumann said.

Paralympics New Zealand received a sizeable boost, up $245,000, following a successful Rio campaign.

Team sports topped up are the silver medal-winning women's sevens team and the highly-rated women's hockey side.

Rugby league is handed an increase heading into World Cup year despite a disappointing 2016 while Snow Sports NZ gets a decent boost two years out from the Winter Olympics.

Cycling has paid a heavy price for winning just one medal at Rio but it remains the second highest funded sport with $4.2m next year.

Rowing still leads with $5.1m although that is $200,000 down on 2016. Two golds and a silver at Rio was considered a disappointment given the standards rowing has set.

Triathlon and swimming didn't come close to medals in Rio, continuing a downward trend for both. Baumann says both will be reviewed in 2018 to evaluate their progress.

Other big reductions come in women's soccer and men's sevens rugby (both falling by $300,000).

The introduction of women's softball and surfing as Olympic sports has been acknowledged with "seed" funding to provide a chance to build towards Tokyo.

There is also "campaign" money directed towards three high-performing Rio Olympians - silver medal-winning pair Natalie Rooney (shooting) and Luuka Jones (slalom canoe) and trampolinist Dylan Schmidt.

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