AIS walkers still upbeat
Hopeful ... Regan Lamble. Photo: Getty Images
Olympian Regan Lamble doesn't expect the uncertainty about the future of the race walking program at the AIS to have a negative impact on performances at this weekend's national titles.
Athletics Australia head coach Eric Hollingsworth held personal meetings with members of the highly-successful AIS program on Wednesday in the wake of revelations it was in danger of being disbanded as part of AA's new tiered funding program.
Lamble said the early indications were the majority of the squad would remain in Canberra, depending on how many places were offered under the changes.
''The bulk of the squad's going to stay, there's a few things up in the air about how it's going to work out,'' she said.
''But it seems like it's manageable to have the squad here.
''We've all had personal meetings at this stage and I think, from what I can gather, most people are relatively comfortable with what's going on.''
Who gets those spots could be influenced by results at the Australian and Oceania 20km Race Walking Championships in Hobart on Saturday.
The event also doubles as a selection trial for this year's world championships.
''We have greater motives to achieve going into selection trials,'' Lamble said.
''We're not concerned with what the program's looking like, for us it's about qualifying for the future.''
Lamble will be one of the favourites in the women's event after last year finishing second to Claire Tallent, who has retired to take up coaching duties of husband Jared.
The multiple Olympic medal-winner is set to leave the AIS and move to Adelaide to be closer to family.
Lamble is originally from Melbourne and moved to Canberra on an AIS scholarship in 2009.
She is keen to remain in the national capital to continue her development following an impressive debut at last year's London Olympics.
A 17th-place finish leaves the 20-year-old in ideal shape as a medal prospect for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, continuing the proud tradition of Canberra-based walkers.
In the 33 years it's been housed at the AIS, the walking program has claimed five of Australia's past 10 Olympic medals in athletics.
Fellow Olympian Beki Lee won't be competing at the national titles, but is confident of remaining at the AIS.
''All of us are hoping to stay in Canberra, providing we get some support,'' Lee said.
''The mood's still pretty good and everyone's ready to do some strong races at the weekend.''