Sir Chris Hoy

Member Article

North East restaurant backs funding for elite sport

A North business is backing calls led by Britain’s most decorated Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy, to think carefully before cutting funding for elite sport.

The Scots cycling superstar, who won his sixth gold medal in the velodrome on Tuesday, spoke out this week as ministers refused to guarantee that current levels of sports spending will be maintained.

Experts fear funding cuts planned for next year will make it all the more difficult for Team GB’s potential stars of the future to shine at Brazil 2016.

One of those hopefuls is teenage tennis ace Grace Dixon, of Whickham, Tyneside, who is being championed by top a North-East restaurant.

The 16-year-old - who has been ranked as high as 13th in Europe - hopes to break into the professional tennis circuit, and representing team GB in Rio de Janeior is among her goals.

Her cause has been taken up by Raval Luxury Indian Restaurant in Gateshead, Tyneside, after it teamed up with the charity SportsAid to call for increased funding for the region’s rising stars.

Raval manager, Avi Malik, said: “The phenomenal success Team GB has enjoyed over the past two weeks has boosted the morale of the entire nation.

“But it would be a tragedy if the feel-good factor were to end when the Games draw to a close on Sunday. We owe it to the young athletes of the future to maintain the momentum.

“That’s why Raval has launched a campaign to support up-and-coming athletes like Grace, and why we’re calling on other businesses to consider supporting the region’s talented sportsmen and women too.”

Mr Malik added: “Sir Chris Hoy is right to take this opportunity to draw our attention to a potential crisis in funding for sport. If these cuts go ahead as planned, Team GB will have a mountain to climb at Brazil in 2016 if it cannot make up the shortfall with lottery money.

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted money is not the only answer to promoting sporting excellence, and he provoked a backlash from teachers when he suggested many of them were not committed to nurturing the next generation of medal-winners.

Hoy outlined the importance of investment in sport in an interview with the Independent newspaper, saying: “Fifteen years ago the lottery funding came in and it was the whole catalyst for the team’s success. Me and Jason Quealy, and some of the others, remember when it was run on a shoestring budget. It was very different, and we weren’t anywhere near as successful.”

Those views were echoed by Peter Wilson, who took Britain’s first shooting gold medal for more than a decade in the double trap event. He said: “Without lottery funding I would not be here.”

Restaurant boss Mr Malik added: “The part Raval is playing in supporting SportsAid, and Grace in particular, is only a small one, but if more businesses took the same approach it could, and would, make a difference.”

The restaurant has been serving Olympic-themed dishes throughout the Games and has set aside cash from sales to donate towards Grace’s competition costs.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Andrew Fenwick .

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