By David Owen

Simon Clegg in front of London 2012 logoMay 9 - Simon Clegg, the former British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive, has been named as the new chairman of Great Britain Badminton.

Clegg - whose 20-year stint at the BOA included both the period of London 2012's winning campaign and the British team's unexpectedly impressive medals haul at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing - is expected to lead the body through to the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The sport faces a struggle to return to highs last attained at the Athens Games in 2004, when Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson held the UK spellbound as they progressed to the mixed doubles final, eventually claiming the silver medal.

Under figures released by Government elite sports body UK Sport, badminton faces a cut in funding from £7.4 million ($11.5 million/€8.8 million) over the London 2012 cycle to £5.9 million ($9.2 million/€6.9 million) to prepare for Rio 2016.

Clegg said he was "under no illusions as to the challenges facing the sport, particularly with the increased dominance of the Asian countries".

He was, however, "extremely excited by the challenge and look forward to working with all the stakeholders, particularly UK Sport, the BOA and the Home Country associations, to give our players the best possible support in their quest for Olympic success".

Having personally witnessed British badminton medals at Sydney 2000, as well as Athens, Clegg said he looked forward to "building on the excellent foundations created by others to take the sport forward".

Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson Athens 2004Britain has failed to win an Olympic medal since Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms claimed silver in the mixed doubles at Athens 2004, leading a cut in lottery funding

After nearly five years away, most of them spent as chief executive of Ipswich Town, who play in England's Championship, the new appointment may also presage Clegg's return to the National Olympic cCommittee, since it seems likely that he will become the voting member for badminton.

He made his return to the broader Olympic world earlier this year when engaged as a consultant to the Madrid bid currently vying with Istanbul and Tokyo for the right to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Badminton also happens to be the sport most closely associated with International Olympic Committee vice-president Sir Craig Reedie, who served as BOA chairman for much of the period that Clegg was chief executive.

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