Olympic hopeful joins campaign against government cuts to basketball funding
bid, has joined the campaign to pressurise the Prime Minister over the slashed funding that is crippling basketball.
Britain’s basketball superstar Luol Deng delivered a hard-hitting letter to David Cameron this week after UK Sport’s funding was cut in the aftermath of the Olympics.
Now Charles, who as a 15-year-old girl from East London was an ambassdor for the Games, has spoken out too. She had a dream to play basketball for her country in Rio in 2016, but that dream is no longer possible if British basketball receives no funding.
Disappointed: Amber Charles was an ambassador for the Games at the age of 15, and met Lord Coe and David Beckham
Her letter reads as follows: ‘As many of you may remember I was an Ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic bid back in 2005. I was just 15 at the time and as you can imagine being alongside David Beckham, Lord Coe and people like Denise Lewis was an incredible experience for a young girl from East London. These are memories which are precious to me and will stay with me forever.
‘I travelled to Lausanne to present London’s bid book to the IOC and was part of your team which travelled to Singapore for the final presentation to the IOC. I also had the great honour of carrying the Olympic Torch as part of London’s Opening Ceremony.
‘My London 2012 experiences, from 2004 through to the actual Games, were amazing and the moment London was announced as the 2012 Host City will live with me for the rest of my life. That moment inspired me to pursue my dream to become a professional basketball player.
‘Almost eight years on and I am now studying in my final year of university in Tennessee on a basketball scholarship. London 2012 made me even more determined to follow my dreams and my ambition now – as it was even back then in 2005 – is to make the GB basketball team for Rio 2016. It is my focus and my aim.
Critical: Luol Deng spoke out against the cuts in a letter to David Cameron
‘But I am utterly dismayed and shocked by the decision by UK Sport to cut funding to the GB Basketball programme to zero. London 2012 was about inspiring the youth of the world through sport. People like me, keeping my dream alive. I just do not understand how all the great work of the 2012 Games – with so much focus on legacy – can then mean my sport being cast aside so soon after London 2012.
‘Without UK Sport funding, GB Basketball is dead and my dream to compete in Rio 2016 is over. I please urge you to do whatever you can to help reverse the short sighted decision by UK Sport and help to keep the inspiration of London 2012 alive for young people like me.
‘I have copied two of the wonderful and treasured photos which will remind me of my experiences and one day I would love to be able to send you a photo of me realising my dream, playing basketball for my country, and, who knows even winning a medal for my country. Imagine our pride and the size of our smiles on that day.’