AUSTRALIAN ATHLETICS FEDERATION TELLS AUSSIE COACHES AND ATHLETES TO PAY THEIR OWN WAY TO ELITE RESULTS
Picture shows Bronwyn Thompson (Aus)
Pay your own way
June 30, 2006
THE cream of Australia’s record-breaking Commonwealth Games athletics medallists have paid their own way to compete in Europe while confused about when – or if – their funding for 2006 will start.
Athletics Australia chief executive Danny Corcoran last night confirmed that no Direct Athlete Support funding had yet been paid in 2006 to athletes who had contributed to a Commonwealth record 41 medals, including 16 golds, won at the Melbourne Games in March.
Brisbane’s Commonwealth gold medallist Bronwyn Thompson is one of the hardship stories, having resigned from her job as a physiotherapist at a Brisbane hospital because she felt she could not fairly be away for her self-funded 13-week campaign in the build-up to September’s World Cup in Athens.
AA is still in talks with the Australian Sports Commission, which provides DAS funding to the national sporting bodies and announced it would direct $4,669,000 to athletics in 2005-06.
Corcoran said he would not comment on why the funding delays had occurred and how many athletes AA had recommended should be paid DAS funding for 2006.
“What we don’t have at the moment is any indication of what that will be and how it will be distributed,” Corcoran said. “It has been budgeted for four years, but we still await how it will be distributed.”
Thompson, ranked third in the world for long jumps in 2006, left Brisbane yesterday for a campaign in which she hopes to beat the Russians who filled the three medal placings ahead of her when she was fourth at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Thompson’s coach Gary Bourne said the delays in funding for elite athletes and their coaches had reached the “ludicrous” stage.
Bourne said by June the past two years athletes would have known what level of funding they would be receiving from the ASC’s DAS program. For the Athens Olympics campaign, this amounted to $30,000 for Australia’s best athletes.
“The ASC paid the funding directly to the athletes last year, but in 2006 AA wants the DAS funding to be paid to them so it can be distributed,” Bourne said. "The athletes have got nothing to prepare with for the World Cup and they are a bit over two years out from an Olympics.
Thompson, Commonwealth discus gold medallist Scott Martin, world championships bronze medallist Craig Mottram and former world cross-country champion Benita Johnson have entered a meet in Cork, Ireland on Sunday morning (AEST).
Bourne will take unpaid leave from his employment as a schoolteacher for eight weeks to supervise Thompson’s campaign.
Any decisions made in talks with the ASC would hopefully permit funding packages to be put in place for the next two years, when athletes would compete at the 2007 world championships and the 2008 Athens Olympics, Corcoran said.
“Sarah Jamieson (Australia’s Commonwealth 1500m silver medallist) has paid her own way over to Europe and has also found the finance to pay for her coach,” Bourne said.
Bourne said AA was wrong to put ASC money into a recently announced junior development program.
Bourne said: "I don’t accept the excuse that they don’t have the money when I see the money being spent in all these different areas.
“The money is there for programs that interest them.”