Netball gold will inspire people to take up the game, says UK Sport chief
By Press Association Sport staff
UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl hopes England’s netball success at the Commonwealth Games will boost participation levels.
Tracey Neville’s side won a dramatic gold medal as Helen Housby’s last-gasp goal earned a 52-51 win over favourites Australia.
Three Commonwealth bronze medals were England’s previous best performance in the sport.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Nicholl said: “It’s a sport that’s been growing and doing incredibly well but this is just a huge moment.
“This is a massive showcase to inspire young women to get involved in the sport.”
Netball is funded by Sport England rather than UK Sport, and Nicholl explained her organisation’s commitment to Olympic and Paralympic sports.
“UK Sport funds UK GB level athletes,” she added.
“Olympic and Paralympic focus – netball is not an Olympic sport, it’s an England sport and if we put money into England netball we’d have to fund Scottish netball and Welsh netball and Northern Ireland netball.
“The National Lottery funding is the fuel that supports the whole of the UK sporting system.
“The home nations received that investment and invested in increasing participation and developing talent, and our unique role is (to ensure) that delivers at Olympic and Paralympic level.”
Nicholl insisted it had been a good Games for the teams from the United Kingdom.
She added: “It was the best-ever Welsh performance, best-ever away performance for Scotland, second-best-ever England performance.
“It’s an away Games and the Aussies will always step it up – the home nation will always perform out of their skin at their home Games just like the English and Scottish teams did at Glasgow in 2014 when there were outstanding results.
“The host nation has to deliver the core events, but they can choose another list of events, and they will always choose those that they’re strong at.
“We lost the judo that was in Glasgow and we did incredibly well in, and beach volleyball was naturally included by the Australians. “