Shauna Coxsey in action during 2017. Photo: Eddie Fowke/IFSC

Shauna Coxsey in action during 2017. Photo: Eddie Fowke/IFSC

The UK’s Olympic sport climbing hopes were boosted today with the announcement that up to £630,000 is being made available to support the push for medals at the Tokyo games in 2020.

World bouldering champion Shauna Coxsey has been identified by UK Sport as having genuine medal potential and will receive initial funding.

The organisation provides financial support for high performance athletes it views as future Olympic podium prospects.

Coxsey, 25, has won the International Federation of Sport Climbing bouldering world cup for the past two years. Sport climbing will be included in the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo and consists of three disciplines: bouldering, lead climbing and speed climbing.

The decision to fund sport climbing was announced on Thursday as part of a package of more than £280m to support Olympic and Paralympic sports, using National Lottery and UK Government cash.

UK Sport said the Tokyo Olympic medal target range is being increasing to 54-92, from 51-85 and the Paralympic range to 119-168, from 115-162.

Shauna Coxsey said: “Today my journey to the Olympics became a little bit more real.

“UK Sport has announced its commitment to fund climbing and I am fortunate enough to be recognised as a potential medallist. This funding will enable me to access elite-level training support and help me to become the best climber I can possibly be.

“I am more motivated than ever to train hard and pursue my goals. I would like to thank all those who have supported me on my journey so far. It’s going to be an exciting few years. Bring on Tokyo 2020!”

The British Mountaineering Council, for whom Coxsey is an ambassador, said with less than two years until the Tokyo 2020 games, a programme of support needs to be implemented quickly to benefit the athletes.

“Due to the urgency with which a programme of support needs to be put in place prior to Tokyo, any investment would be subject to the BMC agreeing to the programme being implemented through a partnership with the English Institute of Sport,” a spokesperson said.

“The EIS would be the recipient of the award, and be responsible for forming and implementing the plan in partnership with the BMC.”

It said the GB climbing team has a number of young talented hopefuls with medal potential, such as Molly Thompson-Smith, Will Bosi, Hannah Slaney and Jim Pope amongst others. “They will now have to prove their prowess on the 2018 competition circuit to win a share of the pot,” the spokesperson said.

Dave Turnbull: 'great result'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Dave Turnbull: 'great result'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Zoe Spriggins, BMC competitions programme manager, said: “It’s inspiring to see climbing and the dedicated GB climbing team athletes gain recognition through government funding.

“We’re excited to be working to help competition climbing realise its potential in the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, and look forward to partnering with the EIS during this historic time.”

BMC chief executive Dave Turnbull said: “This is a great result for our top climbers and competition climbing as a whole in the run-up to Tokyo 2020.

“We’ve had some world-class results in recent years and it’s great to see these achievements recognised through government funding.”

The high-performance funding agency revealed as part of its annual investment review that athletes in para taekwondo, para badminton, sport climbing, karate and BMX freestyle will all receive National Lottery support as they enter the Olympic and Paralympic programme for the first time.

The BMC is one of three bodies still unconfirmed as complying fully with the UK Sport and Sport England code for sports governance.

It said: “The British Mountaineering Council is on track to achieve compliance by April 2018 in line with an agreed timetable. This follows a recent independent review of their structure.” Other governing bodies not yet complying are Volleyball England and the British Equestrian Federation.

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