Huge funding boost for Olympians

Australian runner Stewart McSweyn was a standout at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Picture:y David Ramos/Getty Images

Australian athletes on an “upward trajectory” are set to benefit from a massive $44m funding injection to guide them to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Australian government and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) have committed to the cause in direct athlete grants through to Paris 2024, with a greater emphasis on building long-term medal potential.

The scheme is being increased to $14.63m a year and now includes a transition fund to help eligible athletes navigate retirement from high performance sport.

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Individual athletes can receive grants of up to $35,000 a year, with the funding equal across both Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

The AIS Athlete Advisory Committee was part of the consultation process, with a renewed focus on delivering support for athletes to “reach their peak at pinnacle events including the Olympics”.

“Grants will become future-focused. It will be about supporting athletes to build longer-term plans towards success rather than rewarding past successes based on short-term milestones,” AIS chief executive Peter Conde said.

“The emphasis will be on identifying and supporting those athletes who are on an upward trajectory and will be challenging for medals at the next Olympic, Paralympic or Commonwealth Games.

“The AIS spent two years consulting on these changes, including feedback from athletes, and we believe it gives athletes greater confidence and support to focus on their ultimate goals.”

Nearly 70 per cent of all athletes who went to the Tokyo Olympics, and nearly 90 per cent of Paralympians, received grants during the five-year build up to the Games.

Federal Sports Minister, Richard Colbeck said the aim was to increase those numbers even further by Paris 2024.

“The Australian government has worked with the AIS to grow grants from $12m a year in 2018 to now more than $14.6m a year, which supports about 800 athletes at any one time,” he said.

“These grants are means-tested, ensuring they go to those athletes who need it most. Top-tier athletes are eligible for grants of up to $35,000 a year, which is consistent for both Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”

A fund for retiring athletes is also a new feature of the scheme. Athletes will be able to apply for a one-off grant to support their transition.

“The AIS wants athletes to be successful in sport and life beyond competition, so this is another step in the holistic support of athletes as they move on from sport and continue to be important representatives in their communities,” Conde said.

“It’s important that for athletes to be eligible for this grant they’ll need to work with their national sporting organisation on a meaningful transition plan, which enables athletes to maintain a strong connection with their sport.”

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