Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng must carry some weight in the British sporting world, because his plea to have basketball once again funded by the state worked: The BOA offered a reprieve to the sport Friday, and will indeed fund it for the Rio Olympics.
“Today’s news is absolutely fantastic for the sport, I am overwhelmed to hear basketball have been awarded funding from UK Sport,” British player Drew Sullivan told Reuters. “This news puts GB firmly back on the map and on the road to success.”
The teams had initially seen their funding cut from more than $13 million for the 2012 Games to zero for the new Olympic cycle, despite the fact that UK Sport announced an eleven percent increase in funding across the board. That money was earmarked for popular British sports like cycling and equestrian, where the country has had plenty of success.
But Deng wrote a open-letter to Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this week stating his case that the team’s performance in London set a baseline that the country could only improve on with future generations.
Apparently Deng’s voice was heard.
“The door is not closed to any sport that has had their funding reduced or stopped,” said UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl in the statement. “Every sport has the opportunity to come back to us at the annual review stage to make a case for future funding if they can demonstrate sufficient progress to evidence a credible medal opportunity within the next eight years.”
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.