Wakefield high-jumper Martyn Bernard targets Olympics despite funding set-back

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WAKEFIELD Olympic hopeful Martyn Bernard insists the decision by UK Athletics to stop his World Class Performance Programme funding won’t hinder his chances of competing in next year’s London games.

The former Outwood Grange pupil saw his national lottery funding, reported to be worth £25,000, axed by the sport’s governing body on Monday.

He’s one of five high-jumpers hoping to represent Team GB at the 2012 Olympics axed from the funding.

But UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee has been ruthless, saying that “the main criteria for athletes to be on the world class performance programme is that they have a strong chance to make the top eight in the Olympic Games.”

Bernard, who’s endured an injury-hit 2011, admits the news is disappointing but is keen to put it to the back of his mind and focus on achieving his dream of competing in London next summer.

“It’s been a tough year for me with injuries and you hope that the governing body will support you so it’s disappointing,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a blow, but it’s one of those things. It wasn’t really a surprise, you’ve just got to get on with it.”

He continued: “Making the Olympics is all about performance and I now need to focus on achieving the right levels for London; it’s an exciting time.

“It’s a bit of a financial set-back but for me it’s not really much of an issue.”

The Wakefield Harrier, who had a disappointing World Championships in Korea, has made a fresh start with new jumps coach John Herbert at Lee Valley Athletics Centre in London.

He’s keen to put 2011 behind him and is working towards improved performances in next year’s World Indoor Championships, in Istanbul, and European Outdoor Championships with the hope of hitting his peak in time for London 2012.

Fellow Harriers Emily Freeman (200m) and Charlene Thomas (1500m) have also missed out on funding.

See this week’s Wakefield Express Sport for all the latest sports news from around the district.