Funding threat for badminton star Peter Mills
7:30am Thu Jan 05, 2017
Commonwealth Games badminton silver medallist Peter Mills in action. Photograph: Badminton Photo.
Badminton star Peter Mills believes his future could be in jeopardy after the sport’s national governing body had their UK Sport funding stopped.
The 28-year-old former Common-wealth Games silver medallist of 2014 said the funding cut to Badminton England was a shock to the system.
Badminton is one of five sports to lose all UK Sport funding for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, despite a bronze medal at the Rio Games for Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge.
They were set a target of winning a medal in Rio, and it is the only sport that earned a podium place in the summer to have its funding removed.
Archery, fencing, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby also lost their funding.
Mills, of Southwell, who missed out on a spot at the Olympics after partner Andrew Ellis retired, said the decision from UK Sport was a major body blow.
“The decision was a complete and utter shock to all of us. I was in Ireland playing a tournament when I received the call from our coach,” he said.
“He said he didn’t know how to break it to us. It was out of the blue, particularly after the success we had in Rio.
“They say it is based on medal potential, but we got one at the Olympics, and have recently had two Super Series finals winners and two quarter-finalists at the World Championships last year. It just doesn’t correlate.
“It doesn’t feel like UK Sport are justified because those players have shown they can win the medals and they will still be around for the next Olympics.”
The sport’s governing body, Badminton England, has appealed the decision, and a Government petition to re-instate funding has reached nearly 20,000 signatures.
Mills said funding had been crucial to his career, and players could face big consequences as a result of its removal.
“Without the money I wouldn’t have been able to play, it is as simple as that. It is a hit to the sport as a whole, for both the youth development and at the top-level.
“For the elite players it is the money that we live on, the money we use for tournaments, to train and to pay for coaches. We wouldn’t be able to train full-time.
“The problem with badminton is it’s an Asia-dominated sport, so to be competitive near the top and play the majority of the top-players and tournaments you have to travel a lot.
“The whole system won’t be able to work as it does now and a lot of players won’t be able to carry on because it’s not easy to find sponsors who can support you.”
Last year saw Mills start a new chapter and join forces with Scottish player Adam Halls, with the highlight being a runners-up spot in the Scottish Open Championships in November.
He said he had been looking forward to continuing the partnership, but believes the road ahead may be more problematic for the pair.
“After the disappointment of not qualifying for Rio we had a really pleasing couple of months in the latter part of the year,” said Mills.
“It was good to be playing at the kind of level I know I’m capable of, and a level I have shown in the past and we were looking forward to building on that this year.
“However without the funding, Adam, my partner, may have to move back to Scotland and my own future is really in jeopardy.
“I started playing in Southwell when I was eight-years-old, and to potentially have my career ended by a cut in funding is totally demoralising.”
The appeal by Badminton England is likely to be heard in early February.