Sotherton defiant after funding blow

FORMER Olympic bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton insists she still has London 2012 glory in her sights despite having her central funding axed following a series of injury problems.

Sotherton, 34, was the highest-profile victim yesterday when governing body UK Athletics revealed how lottery cash would be distributed for a crucial 12 months as Team GB hopefuls gear up for the Olympics.

The former heptathlete, who decided to concentrate her efforts on the 400m last year, received second-tier Podium Relay funding last year but has now lost even that – yet remains unshaken in her bid for gold on home soil.

“My goals, aspirations and intentions remain exactly the same as they did when I was on [top-tier] Podium funding and that is to represent Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics,” she said. “I am still training hard, with my focus on being at peak physical condition come July 2012. This news does not come as a major surprise to me and it is not a setback to my ambitions and I am very grateful for the support that UK Athletics has offered me up until now.”

World champions Mo Farah and Dai Greene are among 75 athletes to be awarded elite Podium funding, alongside silver medallists Phillips Idowu, Jessica Ennis and Hannah England.

Recent British converts Tiffany Porter, the US-born hurdler, and Yamile Aldama, the Cuba-born triple jumper who has also represented Sudan, are also in the top bracket.

Two European Under-23 champions, pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale and 400m hurdler Jack Green, have been promoted to Podium, as has marathon runner Scott Overall, who impressed by finishing fifth in Berlin last month.

European silver medal-winning sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis has been relegated to Podium Relay funding after his World Championship disqualification for false-starting