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Smith pledges lottery cash for athletes; OLYMPIC GAMES.

CULTURE SECRETARY Chris Smith has pledged to maintain Lottery support for Britain's elite athletes for four years after the Olympic games in Sydney.

After fears that the number of athletes receiving National Lottery funding is set to be cut, Smith said he and Sports Minister Kate Hoey were "determined to ensure that we build on the fantastic success of the British teams at the Sydney Games".

He said: "This is the first Games where our athletes have received direct support. It is only the beginning.

"We know that investing in our athletes works. It helps people of talent to become champions. We will now look to strengthen - not diminish - the support that they receive."

Smith added: "We will also give the stability of funding they need to be able to plan their training and prepare properly for Manchester and Athens.

"Everybody who plays the Lottery should take great pride from the contribution they have made to the achievements of our athletes."

Smith will pledge that funding will be maintained and strengthened in his speech to the conference on Thursday.

Funding to the World Class Performance Programme has already been increased to pounds 39million in 1999/2000.

Smith will give a commitment that the government will at least maintain this annual level of funding for athletes ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the next Olympics in Athens.

There are hopes Great Britain could finish in the top 10 of the medals table in Sydney.

It is a far cry from the disastrous showing in Atlanta four years ago when rowers Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent were responsible for Britain's sole gold medal success.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 26, 2000
Words:274
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