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Swimming, athletics take ASC funding hit

April 22, 2013

Cover back reflection

Core Olympic sports swimming and athletics have taken a financial cut under a new elite sports funding allocation announced by the Australian Sports Commission today.

The commission had warned that there would be “winners and losers” in a re-positioning of Australia’s sports system and that was apparent in the 2013-2014 allocations.

Of the top seven Olympic sports, swimming (-5.8 per cent) and athletics (-3.8 per cent) have lost funding while sailing (16.7 per cent) and rowing (4.8 per cent) have received a financial boost.

Other losers in the funding shake-up include baseball (-37.3 per cent) and softball (-33.1 per cent), both sports that have been dropped from the Olympic program, boxing (-18.7 per cent), soccer (-15 per cent), cricket (-18.9 per cent) and tennis (-16.2 per cent).

The winners include Paralympic sport (up 14.1 pe rcent after a highly successful London campaign), canoeing (17.4 per cent), water polo (21.5 per cent), and new Olympic sports rugby union (91.2 per cent, including a one-off $500,000 grant to establish a national centre of excellence) and golf (17.7 per cent).

ASC chief executive Simon Hollingsworth said the changes were made to align funding with the organisation’s stated target to see Australia ranked in the top five in both Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Female athletes has been particularly targeted for increased investment across a range of sports because of their history of producing medals. Funding has been particularly directed towards the women’s game in water polo, cricket, soccer, rugby and golf.

Swimming’s funding cut comes after a year of mediocre performance both in and out of the pool, and equates to $500,000 a year, but ASC officials stressed that these cuts must be made in the administration of the sport, and athlete support must not be affected.

Swimming remains the top-funded individual sport ($8.78 million a year) because of its potential to provide the most medals at the Olympics, ahead of Cycling ($7.95m) and rowing ($7.29m).

Hollingsworth said the allocations reflected not only the sport’s international performance but its quality of governance. He said sports needed to show that they were “well-run and efficient” to receive more money.

That has been swimming’s achilles heel in the past year, with many of its short-comings in leadership outlined in the Smith Review of the sport, published in February. The ASC noted that swimming had work to do to “demonstrate effective leadership and governance of the sport.

In contrast to swimming, which had its worst medal return in London for 20 years, sailing is benefitting from its stellar Olympic performance last year, in which it became Australia’s leading gold medal producer, with three gold medals.

It will receive an extra $900,000 a year, taking into account its equipment costs and the addition of two new classes to the program for the Rio Olympics.

The ASC estimates that Australia will need to win between 14 and 17 gold medals in Rio to finilsh in the top five, and 44 to 70 medals overall.

Hollingsworth said that was “a realistically attainable goal” despite there being no overall increase in elite funding after Australia’s tenth place finish in London.

“We have a pretty clear sense of where those medals are coming from (after the ASC’s recent review) and we are within range of achieving that,” Australian Institute of Sport director Matt Favier said.

The Australian Olympic Committee supported the new funding direction.

“There will always be winners and losers under the new strategy but we fully support Winning Edge and its goals. Sports are now more accountable and they are not only judged on performance but governance,” AOC president John Coates said.

The funding for sports participation in all sports is unchanged


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