By Duncan Mackay at UK Sport headquarters in London

UK Sport's "no compromise" approach has paid great dividends with Britain winning 29 gold medals at London 2012 ©Getty ImagesUK Sport announced today that it was softening its "no compromise" approach and after Rio 2016 would award funding on the basis of more than just a sport's medal potential.

It follows a strategic review launched last October following criticism after the Government agency slashed funding for a number of sports because it was decided they were not meeting strict targets in terms of success on the international stage, including at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Among the sports to be affected were basketball, basketball, synchronised swimming, water polo, visually impaired football, goalball and wheelchair fencing. 

Basketball subsequently had some level of funding restored but still short of what it was receiving.

There was criticism that UK Sport had failed to take into account the popularity of basketball among youngsters, particularly in inner cities, and were instead spending money on sports which had only a few participants. 

Basketball is set to be among the sports to benefit from UK Sport's new approach to funding ©AFP/Getty ImagesBasketball is set to be among the sports to benefit from UK Sport's new approach to funding ©AFP/Getty Images

UK Sport will continue to focus on sports with genuine medal prospects but for the first time - and following the public consultation - participation rates will also be taken into account.

Under the new criteria published today, UK Sport promised they will "explore wider impact factors (beyond medals) including number of medallists and participation levels in its measures of success".

But it insisted that awarding the majority of its £100 million ($159 million/€127.5 million) worth of funding so that Britain maintained its position among the world's most successful countries at the Olympics would remain its priority.

"UK Sport has proven its ability to deliver Olympic and Paralympic medal success over a period of 18 years, and it is essential that we continue to refine our investment policy to ensure we remain competitive on the world stage and deliver the best possible return on our investment while continuing to build on the system that helps our talented athletes achieve medal success," Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said here today.

"We will always have to operate within finite resources, but we understand the desire from sports and partners in the sector, as well as the public, for us to be able to extend the impact of our investment into more sports.

"We will now work to develop a clear, prioritised and costed plan, in line with our Board's direction, and in collaboration with Government, to ensure we are ready to implement our new policy in time for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic investment cycle.

"While planning for Tokyo 2020, we will continue to provide our very best support to every potential medallist preparing for Rio, giving them the best possible chance to succeed and make the nation proud again next summer."

Another change is UK Sport will continue to invest in an eight year pathway, but will consider investing for a longer period of time where there is a performance need if finances allow.

The change is widely seen as helping team sports, like handball and water polo, where Britain had little presence before London 2012.

They were funded in the build-up to those Games but that was mostly cut afterwards without taking into account that the sports had started their programmes largely from scratch. 

Britain has risen from 36th in the overall medals table at Atlanta 1996 to third to London 2012, increasing their gold medal tally from one to 29 in the process ©Getty Images Britain has risen from 36th in the overall medals table at Atlanta 1996 to third to London 2012, increasing their gold medal tally from one to 29 in the process ©Getty Images

Since National Lottery funding was introduced following Atlanta 1996, where Britain won only one gold medal to be ranked 36th overall, there has been a dramatic increase in results.

At Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Britain were ranked 10th with 11 and nine gold medals respectively.

At Beijing they finished fourth with 19 gold medals and at London 2012 were third, behind only the United States and China, with 29 gold. 

The consultation revealed 86 per cent of sport/partner and 70 per cent of public respondents endorse UK Sport continuing to focus on Olympic and Paralympic medal success as a key goal.

"The Board was impressed by the level and quality of engagement with UK Sport's strategic review from both the public and our sector partners," said Rod Carr, chairman of UK Sport. 

"It demonstrated that UK Sport's role in delivering medal success is valued highly by our stakeholders and the British public, and that they'd like to see our investment reach even more aspiring athletes."

To read the full strategic review click here

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