(CNN Money) — British athletes won several medals at the Rio Olympics, defying the predictions of experts who predicted the collapse of the team after the London Olympics. Great Britain came in second place in the medal table with 27 gold medals 67 in totalSuperior to great powers such as China, Russia, Germany, Japan and France.
The delegation's success surprised many, as Rio was supposed to be a step back from the lead it had in London, when it won 65 medals in total.
But there is one main reason why the team is doing so well: the country's effective and controversial sports funding program.
UK sporting authorities base their decision to fund specific programs on their likelihood of winning medals and whether they will achieve good results. It is a system in which feelings or excuses are left aside.
If a sports program fails to achieve the expected medals at the Olympic Games, funding will be cut. While those who exceed expectations are rewarded with extra money.
For example, cycling and boxing programs received more funding after London. Wrestling and table tennis were among the losers.
To the dismay of critics, funding for basketball, a popular urban sport, was completely canceled for the men's and women's teams after they failed to achieve their goals.
Rod Carr, head of UK Sport, said this week that budget cuts were giving incentives to sports struggling to achieve better results.
“In the early 2000s, (the gymnastics team) was in a bad place. They didn't do well in Sydney, and their budget was cut in half,” he told BBC Radio. “They went back to basics, took the program apart, saw what worked and what didn't, and built it back up.”
More money means better equipment, coaches, facilities, and long-term results.
The performance-based funding system was implemented after a disastrous day at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. That year, the team won a gold medal and finished 36th on the medal table.
Budgets have increased significantly since then, with money coming from government coffers and the National Lottery. In the four years leading up to Rio, about £275 million (about $360 million) was spent.
Rowing is one of the most funded sports, followed closely by cycling, which has already won 11 medals in Rio. Both programs get more money than the swim and track teams.
It's hard to argue when there are results, but critics say a more comprehensive approach should be taken. Meanwhile, Carr is already thinking about Tokyo 2020 medals.
“What we will do is invest… in sports that now have the opportunity to compete in Tokyo,” he told the BBC.
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