Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has challenged Team GB to justify an unprecedented £500m cash injection by hitting their target of 41 medals at the Beijing Olympics.
The increased investment in elite sport is part of plans to ensure home success when London hosts the Games in 2012.
But it has also benefited the current crop of athletes, whose Olympic preparations have been aided by fulltime programmes, more support staff and the use of a pre-Games training camp in Macau.
Now Sutcliffe says it is time for Team GB to repay that outlay with an improvement on their performance in Athens four years ago.
“We’ve put £500m into elite sports and we’ve got to try and make sure there’s a recovery of that in terms of the outcomes,” he said.
“I think people have recognised the amount of investment that has gone into sport over the last 10 years, but they will certainly measure that by outcomes and that’s why these Games will be important because we’ve handed the opportunity to give the athletes time to train.
“I think it was one of the archers who said to me that he had to work full-time, couldn’t spend the time on training and has now been able to do that through the funding he’s got from UK Sport. So these are the sort of things that we have to turn into something real.”
UK Sport has set a minimum target of 35 medals from Beijing, but has challenged Team GB to go even further and return with 41.
Sutcliffe has backed that target and warned sports that their funding will be affected by their athletes’ performances in China.
“If we came well short of that 41- medal haul we’d be very concerned about that and we’d look to the future,” he added.
“We will have a review immediately after Beijing on the investment that we put in with UK Sport and looking at those sports that have been successful and those that haven’t.”