UK Sport, the body that allocates funding for elite British athletes, announced an increase of 11% for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games compared to the amount pledged for London 2012 earlier this month.

Going up | Dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin, a double gold medal winner in London, will benefit from an increase in funding for equestrian. (Image | The Telegraph)

Going up | Dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin, a double gold medal winner in London, will benefit from an increase in funding for equestrian. (Image | The Telegraph)

Certain sports, such as cycling, athletics and equestrian have had their budgets boosted in order to nurture further success in Brazil.

This change appears to be aimed at rewarding the disciplines that were predominant in the capital this summer.

Meanwhile, others such as basketball, handball and volleyball have seen funding slashed, in some cases to absolute zero, based on what was perceived to be an imbalance between what was put in and what came out in terms of medals.

Naturally it is the cuts that have caught the attention most of all, particularly as they will mean that four different sports, which were handed £14.1million in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, will now have no funding whatsoever prior to Rio 2016.

Is this fair? Some would argue that a results based funding system, which appears to be exactly what has been chosen, is the best way of fulfilling the pledge to win more medals in South America than Team GB managed on home soil.

After all, athletics produced gold medals for Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Alistair Brownlee in the Olympics/

Paralympic golds were won by David Weir, Josie Pearson, Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockroft, Micky Bushell, Aled Davies and Richard Whitehead, with some picking up more than one each.

Thus it stands to reason that an extra £1.7million is a fair reward for what was a strong showing from athletics in London, while a £3.7million reduction in funding for swimming, which was a particularly disappointing area for Team GB, is also justified.

Historic | Great Britain recorded their first Olympic victory in basketball since 1948, but have suffered swingeing cuts. (Image | Sky Sports)

Historic | Great Britain recorded their first Olympic victory in basketball since 1948, but have suffered swingeing cuts. (Image | Sky Sports)

Yet it is the ruthlessness of the funding changes that has been the biggest surprise, particularly in the case of basketball, where £8.6million has been reduced to nothing, leading British Basketball chief Roger Moreland to express his fury at the decision.

Moreland said: “We knew the criteria that UK Sport were applying for Rio, but having been funded in the lead up to the London Olympics because of the sport’s medal potential for the future, this is a devastating decision and is a waste of that investment.

“Over the last five years, the GB teams have done the equivalent of going from League Two in football to the Premier League.

“They have been competing with the very best countries in the world. It doesn’t seem much of a legacy from 2012 to dash the hopes and aspirations of a sport whose heartland is founded in Britain’s inner cities.”

He is not alone, with Volleyball England chief executive Lisa Wainwright issuing this damning indictment of the reduction in money for volleyball from £3.5million to just £400,000: “When we speak of legacy remember this day, the flame has well and truly been extinguished.”

For most casual observers the issue of Olympic and Paralympic funding is peripheral and, as there is a school of thought that as long as there are awe-inspiring moments, heroic performances, inspiring tales and gold medals aplenty in Rio, what is the problem?

Indeed, with the money given over to Paralympic athletes having been increased by 43%, and many of the most successful disciplines now able to build on their tremendous achievements at London 2012, which is far easier than nurturing success almost from scratch, perhaps this is the legacy of the Games that British sport really needs.

Still it is hard to escape the feeling that particular sports are being punished for “letting Britain down” in London, particularly swimming.

Although UK Sport’s Liz Nicholl said it was “not about punishment” of failure, how else can a decrease of nearly £4million for a sport where winning moments were few and far between this summer be interpreted?

Furthermore there is also a strong sense that volleyball, basketball, handball, wrestling and table tennis are being left on the scrapheap and cut adrift in favour of more “glamorous” sports, those that dominated the headlines and put British competitors on podiums.

Certainly it will be interesting to see whether after Rio 2016 there is any sort of reassessment of the allocation by UK Sport, but it appears unlikely, as any alteration could be interpreted as a volte-face.

Ploy | Sports minister Hugh Robertson admitted funding was allocated to "less successful" sports as a ruse to sell more tickets for London 2012. (Image | The Guardian)

Ploy | Sports minister Hugh Robertson admitted funding was allocated to “less successful” sports as a ruse to sell more tickets for London 2012. (Image | The Guardian)

Furthermore, the words of minister for sport Hugh Robertson were rather ominous as he admitted that “we supported all sports mainly to drive ticket sales” and from now “there is not a lot of point of funding a few sports which will not be there in medal contention”.

A politician meddling in sport is always dangerous, for most MPs appear to struggle enough with their Westminster responsibilities as it is, but can such shameless mixing of messages be justified?

Handball’s Chris McDermott showed his contempt for the brutal treatment of his sport, saying he felt “misled and cheated”.

He has a point, as with further commitment from UK Sport handball could have produced a “legacy”, but it has little hope of doing so now at the elite level.

A shift in purpose has clearly occurred among decision makers, and the legacy, to all intents and purposes, has been set in stone.

Britain will fund medals, not incremental improvement, and the strive for excellence and concentration of talents, abilities and achievements in a handful of pursuits will go on after London 2012.

For those sports that have been decimated by cuts it does truly appear to be the end of the road, at least for the next few years.

However, when it comes to boxing, gymnastics and rowing, among others, the relentless pressure for medals will increase exponentially over the next four years.

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