Six of the finest athletes training out of Merseyside have been chosen for the highest level of funding for Tokyo 2020.

The 2020 World Class Programme for both the Olympics and Paralympics offers the highest level of funding for the sport in the UK, with those chosen serious hopes for global success.

The main admission into the category is Katarina Johnson-Thompson. After her gold medal at the Doha 2019 World Championships in October, Liverpool’s sweetheart was a clear choice for the Olympic podium funding.

After her nomination for BBC SPOTY in December, KJT has potential to become one of Team GB’s most successful athletes in recent history and currently stands at 10/1 to win the award this year.

Victory in Japan would give her a strong chance of lifting it at the end of the year.

Two others from Liverpool have been awarded Olympic Podium Potential funding.

Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb; Liverpool) was added having won a European indoor silver in March and finished 2019 as the British No. 1 in the 800m.

Decathlete Tim Duckworth was also selected.

British Athletics similarly announced 46 athletes who have been offered membership to the Paralympic World Class Programme for 2020.

Three of those hail from Merseyside.

David Devine, trained by Tony Clarke, has been selected for the highest level of funding.

Devine won two bronze medals at London 2012. After a four-year injury break from the sport in 2012-2016, Tokyo 2020 poses the first realistic hope for gold on the world’s biggest stage since.

Two Kirkby athletes in Nathan Maguire and Isaac Towers are amongst those chosen for podium potential funding.

Speaking to MerseySportLive last year, Maguire spoke about Tokyo 2020 and his selection for podium potential shows his progression in the sport.

The 22-year-old wheelchair racer, a former student at Liverpool John Moores University, competed at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and won gold in the IPC European Championships University 4x100m relay.

Para Athletics Head Coach at British Athletics, Paula Dunn, thanked UK Sport, the National Lottery and the entire network for helping with the selection.

“As we are well into the Paralympic year, it is great to announce the 2020 World Class Programme following the late world championships last year.

“Several athletes stepped up last season and have moved up to podium level, which has been thoroughly deserved, while I’m delighted to welcome five athletes to the WCP at Podium Potential level.”

Photo Credit: British Athletics / Ben Booth

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