One of the UK’s fastest deaf swimmers has spent more than 1,000 days campaigning against “discriminatory” policies that deny him funding.

Nathan Young, a holder of seven national records, is not entitled to any Government or National Lottery money to support his ambitions.

The reason is that UK Sport, the agency which allocates funding on behalf of those entities, is focused solely on Olympic and Paralympic sports.

As deafness on its own is not a discipline in the Paralympics, Wirral-based Young, 24, falls outside its criteria.

He is eligible to compete in the Deaflympics – the multi-sport event for deaf athletes sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee – but Great Britain does not financially back its entrants, unlike some other countries.

The only central funding available for solely deaf athletes is at grassroots level, with nothing for elite competitors such as Young.

That has left him needing to work and fundraise alongside his training to ensure he is able to meet the huge outlay needed to compete on the global stage.

For most of the last three years, he has also spent a large amount of his time running a campaign to get the parameters for funding changed, believing the current rules to be unfair.

“At the end of the day it’s discrimination,” said Young, whose campaign passed the 1,000-day mark in February.

“It’s completely isolating a whole disability. If I was a Paralympic swimmer, I would have been getting paid since I was 16 or 17. It could have been a career that I could have had.

“Right now, I train, I go to the gym but all the other things I should be getting as what you would class as an elite athlete, I don’t get any of it.

“Others have the best treatment available to them to keep them going mentally, physically and in every aspect. I should be getting physio, doing strength and conditioning but I get none of that.

“When I’m training right now, I’m thinking I should be working. It’s not what I should be thinking about.”

Young’s campaigning has involved giving numerous speeches and interviews as well as writing many letters and articles. He has also contacted MPs and, as part of a wider campaign with UK Deaf Sport, has even visited Parliament.

With UK Sport funding for recent Olympic/Paralympic cycles being around £300million, it is a source of frustration for Young that not even a relatively small amount can be found for Deaflympians.

“What we’re asking for is so little,” said Young, who might need to find around £3,000 to fund a trip to next year’s Deaflympics in Tokyo.

“UK Deaf Sport only asked for £4million for us (deaf athletes), which is so little when there’s £300-and-something million for Olympic and Paralympic sport.

“We’re getting the same responses. We keep pushing it and pushing it but it’s been over 1,000 days now and it’s been an exhausting journey.”

A UK Sport statement read: “UK Sport’s remit is specifically focused on investing in sports and athletes who are eligible to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The Deaflympics falls outside of Olympic and Paralympic sport. We are therefore unable to fund athletes targeting this event.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “This Government is dedicated to making sport in this country accessible and inclusive for everyone, including deaf people.

“Sport England has committed £1.2million between 2022 and 2027 to boost deaf sport at the grassroots level through widening participation and supporting the development pathway for talented athletes.”

UK Sport’s deputy chief insists abandoning a potential joint UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup in favour of focusing on Euro 2028 was the “right decision”.

The 2030 tournament has now been awarded to Morocco, Portugal and Spain, with three South American nations staging the opening matches to mark the tournament’s centenary, while England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland will co-host the European Championships in four years’ time.

A Women’s World Cup was added to UK Sport’s latest list of 70 hosting  targets for events up to 2040, unveiled on Tuesday, and while the funding body executive acknowledged that there “is no stated aspiration” to secure the men’s equivalent within a specific time frame, he did not rule out the possibility of the competition landing on a future list.

UK Sport deputy CEO Simon Morton said: “I think when we think back to the bidding landscape over the last year or two in FIFA, one of the considerations that the FAs had to reflect on was whether the World Cup was winnable, and we had to think about every single event that we move forward with.

“I think it was the right decision, because we were quickly able to move those plans that had been built around the World Cup to secure, although it’s the Euros, a genuinely global tournament, and I think securing that for the UK and the unique partnership that sits alongside it, the four UK home countries and the Republic of Ireland, I think that was the big prize here.

“So I reflect on that and think it was a positive move.”

UK Sport invests both National Lottery and government funding to enable the bidding and staging of what it deems to be “strategically important” international sporting events hosted in the United Kingdom.

The most expensive and large-scale of their top event targets – like the Women’s World Cup – that exceed the organisation’s budget, also require additional financial support from the involved home nation governments. 

Many of the target events are initially classed in the commitment-free “opportunity” category,  which, for those deemed suitable to advance to the next phase, is followed by a feasibility study exploring factors such as venue selection, budget and chances of competitive success. 

Morton reiterated that a men’s World Cup is “not on our list at this (2024-2040) timeframe” and, when asked if the aspiration would be to host one in the 2040s, replied: “That’s not what we’re saying.

“There isn’t a stated aspiration to host the men’s World Cup in a specific year from our perspective, but as this programme evolves, as it moves into the next three or four years, perhaps that comes onto our list.

“I mean, that’s principally an issue for the football associations, who also need to decide on whether a bid goes ahead or not.”

The latest UK Sport update accompanies a new strategic framework for major events, which places a heavy emphasis on social impact and access.

The international hosting landscape has evolved and become more competitive, particularly in the case of Saudi Arabia, who look certain to host the 2034 World Cup after emerging as the sole bidder.

Morton added: “With the rise of Saudi money and what they are doing, it certainly feels as though the role of Saudi and its presence on the global competition circuit is becoming normalised, certainly over the last 12 to 24 months.

“This is why the UK needs to respond. This is part of the reason that we are setting out the plans that we are today.”

UK Sport has outlined ambitions for the United Kingdom to host its first FIFA Women’s World Cup in the 2030s.

The global showpiece is the biggest sporting event the UK has never held, and one of several new additions to the funding body’s latest list of major event hosting targets alongside a World Athletics Championship in 2029 or 2031 and a men’s Rugby World Cup in 2035 or 2039.

The target list comprises 70 events – including 18 world championships – across 32 sports taking place between 2024 and 2040, and while inclusion on the list is just the first of a number of steps before a decision to bid is made, it marks another move forward.

Esther Britten, head of major events at UK Sport, said: “If we had this list without [the Women’s World Cup] on we’d all be saying, ‘Why is it not on it?’. We want to explore this meaningfully in the 2030s and make the right decision about which iteration of the Women’s World Cup is one to go for.

“The environment that we land any of these women’s sports events in is one where we have athletes that are getting increasing cut-through, that are championing their sports, that are speaking out for their sports, and we have increasingly an environment where we have people who want to go and watch these sports.

“That’s why it should be on our list for consideration, but choosing the right time will be (about) the wider international relations factors.”

Every event is subject to a feasibility evaluation which considers factors such as chances of success, venue selection, bid process, financial contributions and costs, as well as the social impact potential.

Such a study would be the next step for the Women’s World Cup, which is currently on the list as an “opportunity” alongside a potential men’s Rugby World Cup.

Simon Morton, UK Sport’s deputy CEO, said it is likely stakeholders would gather after the 2027 Women’s World Cup hosts are announced at the 74th FIFA congress in May 2024.

A joint bid from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands is being considered alongside one from Brazil, while the United States and Mexico have also put themselves forward as co-hosts, while the 2031 hosts will be confirmed in 2025.

Morton said the 2027 host selection may help narrow down which of the next decade’s three Women’s World Cups could give the UK the best chance, while also needing to factor in the Lionesses’ prospects of success in each of those years.

“We have to respect the fact that there are other countries interested in hosting them, so the sort of political dynamics across international federations, in terms of where these events might go, is something that’s outside of our control,” he said. “So that’s why you see a little bit of an open-ended position.

“There’s definitely an aspiration to host the Women’s World Cup in the 2030s, but we need to see who FIFA will go with for that (2027) tournament.

“I haven’t met anyone who thinks that going for the Women’s World Cup is a bad idea, and I think most people would want it to happen as soon as possible, but we’re open-minded about when it might be in the 2030s.”

UK Sport is also exploring the possibility of establishing a new central body to help deliver events where sports and cities are unable to do so.

The Women’s World Cup is one of several events on the list that would also require government funding. Events can move into the feasibility study phase regardless of which political party is in power, but decision-making about investment will need to be taken by ministers.

Despite this being an election year, Morton was optimistic about securing support for major events no matter who the Prime Minister is by the end of 2024.

“I think politicians have a timeless understanding of the power of these events,” he said. “I don’t think the importance of live sport to this country, in particular, and to the people and communities of this country, is going to change, irrespective of who is in power.”

Every event on the list is either multi-gender or, where a men’s edition has been included, so has the women’s counterpart, with the 2031 or 2035 Ryder Cups also newly included having reached the live feasibility study phase, alongside the 2029 or 2031 World Athletics Championships and five other events.

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