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Blow for Weightman as she loses funding for next season.

LAURA Weightman is among a number of high-profile athletes to have had their National Lottery funding cut for the 2017 season. The number of Olympic athletes on podium funding has dropped from 21 to 15 ahead of the 2017 London World Championships, with Morpeth Harriers' 1,500m runner Weightman one of those affected.

The retired Jessica Ennis-Hill, sprint hurdlers Andy Pozzi and William Sharman, injury-plagued former 400m hurdler world champion Dai Greene, former Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and 800m runner Andrew Osagie joined Weightman in dropping off the list.

James Dasaolu, the second fastest Briton in history, has also been stripped of his Lottery funding.

The 29-year-old, who three years ago ran 9.91 seconds over 100m to rank second only to Linford Christie on the British all-time list, has lost his relay funding, indicating he is no longer in Great Britain's relay plans.

Dasaolu has paid the price for a poor season in which he could only make the semi-finals of the Rio Olympics before being dropped from the team for the 4x100m final.

Bobsledder Joel Fearon, who competed at the Sochi Winter Olympics and this year became the joint thirdfastest Briton over 100m by running 9.96secs, is part of the relay set-up.

The 28-year-old, who finished fifth in Sochi as part of the four-man bobsleigh team, did not qualify for Rio as his time came too late. British Athletics yesterday released the names of those selected on its world-class performance programmes for 2016-17. Ohuruogu, the former Olympic and two-time world champion over 400 metres, has been downgraded to relay funding.

The 32-year-old failed to qualify for the 400m final in Rio, although did help the relay team win bronze. Afterwards she questioned whether retirement was looming.

Pozzi, however, remains on the WCPP on lower-level podium potential support.

American-born 100m hurdler Cindy Ofili has been awarded toplevel funding after finishing fourth at the Rio Olympics.

Dasaolu, who has not broken 10 seconds since 2013, despite one wind-assisted run this summer, was relegated to relay funding last year and has now seen his funding removed completely.

Fearon is not part of the WCPP as he is already a member of the British Bobsleigh equivalent, but will link up with the relay squad.

The same is true for United Statesbased Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who last year ran 19.95s for 200m. The 22-year-old is also part of the relay squad, but not the WCPP as he is still at college at Louisiana State University.

British Athletics performance director Neil Black said: "2016 was an excellent year for the British Athletics teams at both the Olympics and Paralympics, winning more medals in Rio than in London 2012.

"But we are now at the start of a new Olympic and Paralympic cycle, so we need to build a team that is focused towards further success and improvement at Tokyo 2020 - our selections reflect this.

"With a core group of established athletes and a large group of young and emerging talent, this is an exciting time for British Athletics. "Those selected will be expected to fulfil tough performance criteria throughout the next cycle, but our immediate focus is firmly on winning medals at London 2017.

"To have both World Championships in the UK, in the same year, is just incredible.

"It will be a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity for British athletes to be crowned world champions and become world medallists on home soil, and I expect a number of those selected on this year's WCPP to grasp that opportunity."

Laura Weightman of Great Britain reacts after the Women's 1500m final at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Morpeth Harrier has seen her Lottery funding cut by British Athletics Alexander Hassenstein Alexander Hassenstein
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 3, 2016
Words:622
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