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Money matters for Ashleigh Nelson

LOOKING FORWARD: The sprinter is at last gaining recognition

ASHLEIGH NELSON has told the Voice of Sport that she is over the moon to have secured vital funding for the upcoming track and field season.

British Athletics announced the Olympic and Paralympic athletes that will be supported by their World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) for 2014 – 2015 last week.

The list has seen some athletes controversially omitted in previous years and while the recent choices made by the governing body has divided opinion, Nelson admitted it was good to be rewarded for her successful on track endeavours last season.

The City of Stoke sprinter, 23, became the first British athlete in 40 years to win an individual 100m medal at the European Championships in Zürich. The podium finish came just two weeks after she was part of the English 4x100m relay quartet which won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Nelson was also a part of the quartet that set a new national record at the Zurich Diamond League meeting last August in a time of 42.21s, breaking their own record which they had set eleven days earlier at the European Championships on their way to securing the gold medal.

“I’m over the moon. I think getting funding does allow you to relax a little bit financially. I don’t have to train six days a week and be thinking about getting a job,” Nelson explained.

“The good thing for me about being on funding is when I go away to national competitions where my personal physios can’t get access, the British Athletics team already knows me, so if I do have any issues they are already familiar with my body and some of the things I’ve done to stay in one piece.

“Essentially as I said, funding allows me to relax. Unlike footballers for example that get paid even when they don’t play, if we don’t compete and race we don’t earn, we don’t all have huge pots of money. That’s where funding helps.”

BRONZE BEAUTY: Nelson during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

Nelson, coached by Michael Afilaka, says aside from the money, the real kudos surrounding being selected for the WCPP comes in the recognition athletes receive for the work they put in.

She enthused: “One of the things you will hear a lot amongst the female sprinters, especially after last summer, is that we are actually getting recognised for what we have done.

“I think more than the money that is the main thing. We are working hard, we’re getting the results and we are now getting recognition for it. That’s more rewarding than getting any amount chucked on the table.”

Athletes are selected for the WCPP based on their potential to win medals at Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The WCPP, funded by the National Lottery through UK Sport, is split into two levels. Podium is for athletes with the potential to medal at Rio 2016, while Podium Potential is for athletes developing towards Tokyo 2020.

Following the announcement of this season’s recipients British Athletics Performance Director, Neil Black said: “Our World Class Performance Programme selections for 2014-15 once again reflect on the criteria of medal potential at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Competition for places on the programme is extremely competitive and this year the selection panel faced tough performance decisions based on such stipulations in this funding cycle.

“Next year we are looking to build on the excellent foundations set in 2014 and I’m excited about how our athletes will fare on the global stage at the World Championships in Beijing and the IPC World Championships in Doha.

“I’d like to thank the National Lottery and UK Sport for their continued investment in the World Class Performance Programme. The support enables our athletes to be the best prepared in their quest for success in 2016, at the home World Championships in 2017 and beyond.”

Looking forward Nelson has her eye on making the team for the World Championships in China next year and while she knows that won’t be an easy prospect she is feeling good about her chances.

“I was given the opportunity in 2008 to go to the Olympics as part of the relay squad, I didn’t compete but the experience was amazing. It made me step up.

“So going back will be fantastic, they cater to your every need as an athlete over there, conditions are perfect.

"But I have to make the team first like everyone else. If that happens I want to make the final.”

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