Nathan Young – Deaf Swimmer Accuses Funding Bodies of Discrimination


Deaf swimmer Nathan Young has accused UK funding bodies of discrimination for neglecting to provide money for elite deaf athletes. Young – who holds seven national records – is fourth in the world in some events, but he isn’t eligible to receive any government or National Lottery aid since UK Sport, the organization which dispatches funding, solely concentrates on Olympic and Paralympic sports. Deafness on its own is not included in Paralympics and therefore, Young’s situation is disregarded.

The Deaflympics – which has been active since 1924 – is endorsed by the International Olympic Committee yet the UK government contrastingly against some other countries, doesn’t provide grants to its representatives. UK Sport’s aim of investing in sports and athletes eligible to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games excludes those in the Deaflympics and Young describes this as “totaI discrimination”. Even though the Paralympics is more well known, he believes that even a small budget appropriation to the Deaflympics would help to make a difference. His worry is that due to financial constraints many of his team-mates are no longer able to continue in the sport.

As well as bringing attention to the unfairness, Young has launched a campaign to finance his own journey to the World Deaf Swimming Championships in Argentina this August. For this, the 24-year-old needs to raise £5,000 to cover all his expenses, with no provisions of aid. As a deaf athlete, Young faces challenges – he isn’t able to hear the starter and understands that not many swimming bodies are open to accommodating him.

In response to Nathan Young’s claims, UK Sport said that they could not fund athletes targeting the Deaflympics, as it falls outside of Olympic and Paralympic sport. However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport make it clear that there are funding options available at grassroots level for deaf people through Sport England. Nathan Young remains determined to compete in the 2025 Deaflympics and will continue his campaign until what he considers ‘discrimination’ is stopped.

UK Sport is a publicly-funded organization established in 1997 that advocates for investment in Olympic and Paralympic sports. The organization allocates funding provided by the government and the National Lottery to elite athletes and national governing bodies, making sure the athletes can aspire to win medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Nathan Young, one of the UK fastest deaf swimmers, has been swimming since he was 10-years-old and competed at the 2017 Deaflympics, winning a relay bronze. Despite losing his hearing when he was two-years-old, Young holds seven national records and is ranked 4th in the world for some of his events. Although he has ambitions to reach the Olympics, Young is aware of the setbacks deafness can bring. Since the cochlear implant he uses cannot be used in the water and the stress of watching the referees for a sign in lipread or a jaw movement and have to get back to position for the start – it all adds to the challenge.

Young is hopeful to attend the delayed 2021 games and continues to fight for funding to make this a reality, he is often interviewed, uses social media and has written articles to try and draw attention to the lack of aid offered to those in the Deaflympics. Put simply, funds need to be set back into the Deaflympics to help athletes fulfil their dreams.