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Athletics Australia boss backs new scheme

Athletics Australia boss Dallas O’Brien is adamant a new ‘‘national athlete support scheme’’ will provide the blueprint for greater international success on the track, as the AIS athletics programs hang in the balance.

AA head coach Eric Hollingsworth will be in Canberra on Monday meeting with AIS scholarship athletes - in particular those from the race-walking program.

The sport’s governing body is undergoing major changes as part of the Winning Edge review in Australian sport.

It will move away from AIS scholarships to a tiered-scholarship system determined by athlete success.

That could mean programs based in Canberra - including the successful race walkers - could be disbanded for a more individual focus.

Three-time Olympic medallist Jared Tallent is considering a move to Adelaide, while the future of all Canberra-based athletes remains unclear.


O’Brien acknowledged the frustration of the uncertainty, but said the new AA approach was ‘‘a great step forward’’.

‘‘This change [the Winning Edge plan] has enabled Athletics Australia to develop a national athlete support scheme for all athletes, involving the state institute and academy system across the country, which is a great step forward,’’ O’Brien said.

“We understand that these changes may be stressful for the athletes on scholarship and we are continuing to host a series of individual meetings to update them on progress and talk them through what this transition is likely to mean for them.

“We are very proud of what the AIS program has been able to help our athletes achieve over the years, but Australia’s national sporting strategy has changed in the wake of the Winning Edge plan and athletics has to adjust accordingly.

‘‘We see this adjustment however as laying the groundwork for even greater success for Australian sport in the future.”