Mental health


UK Sport wants athletes to "thrive, not live in fear" in top-five goal for Paris 2024

UK Sport wants athletes to "thrive, not live in fear" in top-five goal for Paris 2024
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UK Sport is targeting a top-five finish for Britain at next year’s Olympics in Paris, insisting they want athletes to "thrive, and not live in fear" in a move away from a "winning at all costs" mentality.

Britain have not finished outside the top four in the medals table since Athens 2004 and placed as high as second at Rio 2016.

They ranked fourth at Tokyo 2020 with 22 golds, 20 silvers and 22 bronzes, finishing behind the United States, China and hosts Japan.

According to data from UK Sport which is based on performances at the most recent World Championships, Britain are projected to place third at Paris 2024.

But UK Sport officials have stressed that the welfare of athletes will take priority over medals after the gymnastics abuse scandal.

"To keep winning is really important to us, but it’s not winning at all costs," said Kate Baker, director of performance at UK Sport, as reported by British newspaper Daily Mail.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be one of Britain's big gold-medal hopes at Paris 2024 after being crowned world heptathlon champion ©Getty Images
Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be one of Britain's big gold-medal hopes at Paris 2024 after being crowned world heptathlon champion ©Getty Images
What we are asking of our programmes, and in previous cycles we have faced challenges in this space, is ensuring they are creating the right environment for those talented, high-potential individuals which enables them to achieve their best and thrive, and not live in fear.

We know that people can perform if they are not in a well space, but that is not what we want. If a programme is only interested in winning, and not looking after people, you're not for us.

If you are a programme that is not doing things the right way but you win lots of medals, that is not going to fly with us and we will be willing to sacrifice those medals in the long term.

The Whyte Review, which was co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England, was published in June 2022, revealing the extent of abuse that had taken place in gymnastics between August 2008 and August 2020.

UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday underlined the importance of "winning well".

"If that means we come fifth on the medal table rather than fourth, we are very comfortable with that, as long as we can put our hand on heart and say we have done everything we can do to ensure our sports are winning well," said Munday.


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