Olympic athlete Andy Turner vows to race on as he faces funding hurdle

Great Britain's Andy Turner in action during the mens 60 metres Hurdles final during the Aviva International at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 28, 2012. See PA story ATHLETICS Glasgow. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Great Britain's Andy Turner in action during the mens 60 metres Hurdles final during the Aviva International at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 28, 2012. See PA story ATHLETICS Glasgow. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

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Olympic athlete Andy Turner’s reign as the best, and most celebrated, sportsman from Hucknall is under threat again.

For Turner has been stripped of his National Lottery funding by UK Athletics in the build-up to the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

He will lose his award of about £20,000 a year because officials feel he is not a realistic medal-prospect for Rio.

The decision is a kick in the teeth for the 33-year-old sprint hurdler at the end of a year in which he has been sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury.

But the former European gold-medallist told the Dispatch this week that he has no intention of retiring -- and is still determined to make it to Brazil for his fourth Olympics.

“In a way, I suppose UK Athletics would be happy if I disappeared,” he said. “But that’s the last thing I want.

“I couldn’t let somebody else’s lack of faith in me decide when I retire. I will finish when I’m ready.

“It seems I haven’t met the funding criteria, but I have had a lot of injury problems.

“I have to take the decision on the chin, but I still believe I have what it takes to run as well as, if not better than, before. After all, it’s only two years ago that I ran my personal-best time.”

Turner is one of the highest-profile victims of UK Athletics’ new get-tough policy, which stems from a crackdown by UK Sport, the government agency that distributes Lottery funds.

In the past, funding has been based on an athlete’s potential to make it to the final at an Olympics or World Championship. Now, he or she must be deemed capable of winning a medal.

Turner, son of Yvonne and Malcolm Turner of Nottingham Road, Hucknall, was also axed from the scheme in 2009 when he reacted furiously and lodged three appeals.

He bounced back the following year to be crowned European and Commonwealth 110m hurdles champion and then finished third in the 2011 World Championships. His funding was duly restored and helped him to last year’s London Olympics, where he made the semi-finals.

Turner is not planning to appeal this time round -- but admits he will use the snub as motivation to try and retain his Commonwealth title in Glasgow next year.

“I don’t rely on Lottery funding as much as I did four years ago,” Turner said.

“I have a personal training business (Antics Fitness based in Sutton, Surrey where he lives) and a few other things.

“I am sure the decision is based on my age, but it is complete nonsense.

“In every single major final over the last 15 years, there have been loads of athletes in their 30s.

“I am sure I have three years left in me comfortably. I love running, and I think I can make Rio.

“The only thing that could hold me up might be injuries. So I will miss the support network that comes with funding, such as access to physios and doctors and warm-weather training.

“However, my current recovery is going well and I should be back in full training in six weeks.

“The aim is to do well in the Commonwealths, which would be an embarrassment to UK Athletics and UK Sport.

“I have won five medals at major championships, and I am proud of what I have done. It would be nice to stick two fingers up at them again.”