Found this in “The Australian” this morning:
"IN January, Adam Miller ran 10.29sec, putting him at the top of the Australian sprint table and on target for the Beijing Olympics.
Yesterday, his name remained at the top of the 2008 100m rankings, but Miller was a retired athlete serving wine to customers at a Canberra restaurant, relishing his role as a trainee sommelier rather than a sprinter.
Patrick Johnson and Josh Ross also clocked 10.29sec this year. Last month, Johnson lost his scholarship at the AIS as the nation’s peak sports institute shut down its sprint program permanently. He moved to Brisbane to try his luck with a new coach and a largely self-funded program.
Ross has shifted from Sydney, where national sprints coaching co-ordinator Paul Hallam has just been axed from his job at the NSW Institute of Sport, to Melbourne in a last-ditch attempt to get his promising career back on course.
At any athletics carnival, from the local school sports to the Olympic Games, the 100 metres is always the contest that brings the crowd to a hush.
But as 2008 draws to a close, Australian sprinting is going nowhere fast. A lack of funding, a lack of faith and a shallow talent pool have combined to leave the feature 100m and 200m events facing an uncertain future.
At the Beijing Olympics. where Usain Bolt became a global star with his all-conquering sprint performances, there were no Australians to cheer in either the men’s or women’s 100m and 200m, or the sprint relays.
It was the first time in 28 years, since the 1980 Olympics, that Australia did not have a competitor in the men’s sprints.
But rather than mounting an all-out effort to boost sprint stocks, Athletics Australia is taking the attitude that the sprints may be simply too hard - especially for a largely white population.
AA, chronically short of money and without a major sponsor for the past year, recently told Hallam it would end funding for his role as head of the national sprints program. And for the first time in more than 10 years, there will be no sprinters on scholarship in Canberra after Johnson, Daniel Batman and Miller all either lost their funding or retired.
On recent results, they probably did not warrant ongoing support, but long-time coaches are worried about the lack of will to foster the next sprint generation. AA chief executive Danny Corcoran signalled yesterday sprinting was no longer a priority and the focus would be on more technical events, where Australia is strong.
“The general feeling is that on the world stage it is a very tough event to have an individual sprinter at 100 or 200 metres. We haven’t had an individual finalist for a long time … there hasn’t been a (good) white sprinter for a very, very long time,” Corcoran said. “We are looking at competing in events where we can win medals. There is no secret the walks is an event we can target, pole vault is an event we can target, the hurdles, short and long (100m, 110m and 400m), we can target because they are technical events.”
Corcoran says AA will back a relay program - a turnaround given it did not send a men’s 4x100m relay team to Beijing even though Australia had qualified to go.
But AA’s attitude to the sprints has been met with disquiet.
“I don’t agree it is right to write off a whole group of events,” said Tudor Bidder, athletics performance manager at the AIS.
"You can concentrate your efforts into certain events, but you should never shut the door on somebody coming from left or right of that.
“There is nothing to say a great sprinter can’t come along, provided the environment is there. And what we should be trying to do is create the environment.”
He cites Johnson, whom he coached at the AIS. The only Australian to have run sub-10sec, he was discovered by former AIS coach Esa Peltola when he looked out his office window and saw Johnson running at the Australian University Games.
Today, if Bidder spotted an athlete with similar raw talent there would be no option to place him or her on an AIS sprint scholarship.
It is also worth noting that Australia’s medal success on the world stage since the late 1990s has come in events as varied as high jump (Tim Forsyth), javelin (Joanna Stone), hammer throw (Brownyn Eagles), marathon (Steve Moneghetti), walks (Nathan Deakes, Jared Tallent and Jane Saville), pole vault (Dmitri Markov, Tatiana Grigorieva and Steven Hooker), long jump (Jai Taurima), 400m (Cathy Freeman), hurdles (Jana Rawlinson and Sally McLellan), 5000m (Craig Mottram) and the men’s 4x400m relay.
Craig Hilliard, who coached Taurima and now coaches Deakes, says no event should be ignored.
“I don’t think you can afford to do that in our sport. Sure you can target events, but those events and disciplines are cyclical. Some years we are strong in jumps or throws and then all of a sudden they disappear, that is the nature of our sport.”
Miller, 24, is happily retired but holds out hope Australian sprinting is not a lost cause.
"You can’t shut the door and say we are only going to do relays. Hopefully some unknowns will come through like Patrick and Matt Shirvington did.
“They arrived out of nowhere through the school system and we need more people to jump out of the woodwork.”
But he adds a sobering note.
“My best time was 10.17sec and that was good for Australia but it was nothing on the international stage,” Miller says. “Still to this day not one Caucasian male has ever broken 10 seconds and that says a lot about genetics and the make-up of human beings.”"
Seems like they’ve given up completely. I mean not sending 1/2 guys to the Olympics was disappointing but this is just sad. NSWIS were complaining about the lack of junior talent going on to represent Australia early this year, but how is even LESS money going to help that?! They’ve pretty much told everyone with any talent the governing body isn’t willing to support you and any dreams they might have isn’t worth their time. I understand the monetary issues they have but it’s disgusting that they (and the government) won’t even give ANYONE a chance. This is supposed to be a ‘sporting’ nation, is it not?