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Paralympian fears funding cuts

Five-time Paralympic gold medallist Evan O'Hanlon is fearful for his future in sport after the announcement of moving athletes away from the AIS.

O'Hanlon holds the world record in both the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints for an athlete with cerebral palsy and he thought the changes to athletics at the AIS could mean he can't afford to continue competing.

In addition to his Australian Institute of Sport scholarship, he's currently on an Athletics Australia contract for $10,000 per year - the top able-bodied athletes have contracts for $50,000-$60,000. He was worried the new AA scholarships, which replace the AIS scheme, would be calculated in a similar way.

O'Hanlon was also concerned about losing the medical and sports science backing of the AIS, as well as the rental allowance he receives.

''I'm the first person to say that I don't deserve what Sally Pearson has, she's doing a whole different thing, she's the best in the world,'' he told The Canberra Times.

''And I'm the best in the world of a very small pool, but I don't think that a one-to-five ratio is very fair - I think it should be a lot closer.


''I'm a little bit worried from the financial side of things.

''AIS support is really good - we get all our medical and all our facilities plus we get a rental allowance.

''I can't see how Athletics Australia can offer that to people around Australia without it being reduced and that's a bit of a worry for me as I only just get by at the moment.

''The AIS has really kept my career alive.''

AIS director Matt Favier confirmed the athletics program would switch to AA-controlled scholarships, but he did not know the specifics of what AA had planned. He did help allay some of O'Hanlon's fears, stating the AIS would continue to provide medical and sports science support to the Canberra-based athletes.

Everything else would now be decided by AA.

''If they are in Canberra in programs like track and field, we would expect to underpin those athletes in their programs through a level of service delivery … [of] physiotherapy, medicine, soft tissue, as well as strength and conditioning,'' Favier said.

He said sports would have to provide details of where they think they can succeed and then apply funding from the AIS to those areas.