Sick about the Socceroos, worried about the Wallabies, testy about the Test cricketers?
Too often Australians are looking in the wrong places for the reflected glow of sporting success, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) politely suggests.
ASC chiefs on Tuesday reported on progress in meeting the 20-plus world championships target they set for the first year of their revamped sports funding program, Australia’s Winning Edge, launched after the disappointing overall London Olympic campaign.
With $100 million out a total of $120 million of taxpayers’ money a year going from the ASC into the high performance end of Australian sport, they’re keen to show it’s closely monitored and results are definitely required.
They listed 18 current world champions, or recent winners of “iconic international events” – with the good chance the Kangaroos at the Rugby League World Cup can join them before the year is out.
“Whilst there has been attention on the struggling fortunes of Australia’s men’s cricket, rugby and football teams, it should not overshadow these performances,” said ASC chairman John Wylie.
He believed there was an “overwhelming and disproportionate amount of attention paid to the marquee professional sports” which crowded out some great achievements.
The ASC list of 18 includes 13 sports, headed by London Games problem sport swimming with three world champions – Cate Campbell, James Magnussen and Christian Sprenger.
It also, significantly, includes more women’s titles – 10, with women’s sport – “one of the great under-appreciated stories in Australian sport” – one area targeted for potential rich rewards.
The ASC did acknowledge aspects of their list may be debated – for example it includes an Australian Open mixed doubles tennis title.
Australia’s Winning Edge is a multi-faceted 10-year program, which set lofty goals including Australia finishing top five on the medal table at the Summer Olympics, top 15 at Winter Olympics and No.1 at the Commonwealth Games.
Improving governance of the various sports is another key role, with continued ASC funding for seven leading Olympic sports depending on conforming to its guidelines.
The ASC rated as “low”, the current level of reform progress being made by cycling, which needed to integrate its three main bodies, Cycling Australia, BMX Australia and Mountainbike Australia.
The doping-scandal hit sport also needs to find a new Cycling Australia president to replace Klaus Mueller, who stepped down in August, as an “urgent priority” with significant progress needed in cycling before the ASC allocates the next’s year’s funding in March.
The other six sports – athletics, basketball, hockey, rowing, sailing and swimming – rated between medium and high in progress toward meeting the new mandatory standards.
SC CEO Simon Hollingsworth said: “We are enormously encouraged by the way sports have risen to the challenge and embraced change.”
Wylie praised the progress in swimming since the controversies stemming from the London Games flop, particularly the recent appointment of “inspirational figure” John Bertrand as Swimming Australia president.