The Athletics Australia Chief Executive Officer, Phil Jones, has made the following comments as he broadly welcomed the announcement made yesterday that the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) remains committed to Australia’s Winning Edge (AWE) strategy.
“There are many strong elements to AWE, with perhaps the key being that, within broad parameters, it allows sports a greater level of self-determination. AWE recognises that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution,” Jones said.
“There has been a suggestion that we are four years into a ten year program and since the dust settled after London and the strategy was agreed, we have really only had three years to commence implementation. AWE resulted in fundamental changes for most sports. Enacting a change of this magnitude in such a short time frame was always a very ambitious challenge. With the goodwill of the many stakeholders, great progress has been made. There is work still to do and clearly room for improvement. A review is appropriate but a wholesale change is not warranted.
“Clearly the biggest challenge facing sport is a lack of funding when compared with other countries that Australia competes against. 207 countries competed in the athletics competition at Rio 2016. If we are to remain competitive and realise the potential that our athletes and coaches clearly demonstrated in Rio with 28 top-16 results, including nine top-eight finishers and two medals, our costs will inevitably continue to climb.
“We cannot expect the public to go on committing an ever increasing amount of money through the tax system. We fully support the idea of a national lottery, the proceeds of which could be used to supplement, but not replace, the current government funding for both participation and high performance sport.
“Whilst we consider the medal tally to be a key indicator of sporting success, investment needs to be made all the way along the athlete and coach pathway. The excellent performances of many of our younger athletes in Rio was as a direct result of the success of our commitment to our Junior High Performance program over many years.
“Obviously we will now be taking the lessons from Rio to refine and improve. This will impact not only on our high performance program but many other aspects of what we do as an athletics community. Long term, sustainable success at the elite level is inextricably linked to the health of the sport as a whole. Athletics is one sport and we all have a responsibility for its success.
“We look forward with great optimism to the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and the Olympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo.”