A WIRRAL swimmer is backing a new campaign by UK Deaf Sport, aiming to end the exclusion of deaf athletes from UK Sport funding, which is currently only given to Olympic or Paralympic athletes.

Fair Play for Deaf Athletes calls for the government to end discrimination against deaf athletes and fund them to compete in the Deaflympics, which is next being held in Tokyo in 2025.

Currently, deafness is the only disability that the Government do not fund at elite sports level, with deaf athletes only competing in the Paralympics if they have another eligible disability.

While £612m is allocated over four years to fund Olympic and Paralympic athletes, nothing at all is given to deaf athletes who compete in the Deaflympics or other competitions.

UK Deaf Sport is now calling for the government to commit £3m over the next four years, which is just 0.5% of the current UK Sport budget, to create deaf athlete talent and performance pathways that mirror their Olympic and Paralympic peers in time for Tokyo 2025.

One of those athletes backing the campaign is Nathan Young, from Wallasey, one of the fastest deaf swimmers in the world who won a Bronze medal at the 2017 Deaflympics. 

Nathan said: "After countless years of witnessing and competing against fully funded swimmers from other countries, I've seen the constant support these athletes receive from their nations and how this impacts not only their performance but also their motivation and hopes for the future. It's a very different experience to myself. 

"Deaf athletes have constantly looked at our Paralympics peers and see the amazing support they have received. Our Government and UK Sport fund GB Olympic and Paralympic pathways for our athletes and their competitions but those under the Deaflympics GB umbrella receive no funding or just as important, no acknowledgement.

"The support and training network they receive and the continuous superior alliance guiding them to their future dreams and goals. That is something I do not have and have never had."

This summer, Nathan, 24, who swims with Wirral Metro, took on the best in the world at the World Deaf Swimming Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, breaking the British Record on the way to a fifth place finish in the 50m Butterfly. That was followed by taking 6th place in the 100m Freestyle and also reaching the semi-final of the 50m Freestyle.

He said: "For the last ten years I have trained 20+ hours a week, attended university and worked - all the while having to fund all my training and competition costs, relying heavily on my parents and those who kindly donate.

"I have put a potential role in the audiology profession on hold to continue to represent my country and inspire as many deaf children as I can. All because l am deaf.

"At the World Deaf Swimming Championships, I came fourth, and the athletes who finished first, second and third, represented countries with government funding.

"GB deaf athletes' potential is limited because of the sacrifice made to training due to having to fundraise. The mental impact of knowing that these athletes are funded and supported to the highest level and most importantly their country treat them fairly and equally is irreversible and so wrong.

"Deaf Athletes for years have missed out and been treated like a fallen branch, left on the ground open to the elements. This cannot be allowed to continue.

"I want our future deaf children to look up to their Deaflympians. To have hope that when standing on the block, competing in their first club swimming gala that they have a dream that one day they may themselves compete in the Deaflympics. Most importantly that their country is behind them, respected and proud.”

Piers Martin, Chair of UK Deaf Sport added: "It is not well-known that the Deaflympics is a separate event to the Paralympics, but that is simply not a valid excuse for the Government to continue to exclude elite deaf athletes, and modern society no longer accepts discrimination at this level."