AIS continues supporting Athletes of the Future

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is delivering on its $35million commitment over two years to help sports identify and develop Australia’s talented athletes of the future.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are the immediate focus for 2021, but the AIS has maintained its strong commitment to building long-term sustainable success by investing in jobs and strategies that support the country’s emerging talent across Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sports.

The total $35.3million in direct funding to National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) comprises:

  • $21.6million in Performance Pathways Solutions grants, an initiative that helps sports implement strategies that develop their emerging athletes, and:
  • $13.7m in Pathways Workforce Grants to 36 NSOs, funding the equivalent of more than 45 full-time positions over two years in areas such as pathway leadership, coaching, sport science and sports medicine support.

In 2020 alone, the AIS has allocated more than $10million in Performance Pathways Solutions Grants for ongoing projects across 23 sports: Archery; Artistic Swimming; Athletics; Baseball; Basketball; Golf; Hockey; Modern Pentathlon; Netball; Paddle; Para-Table Tennis; Equestrian; Rowing; Rugby; Sailing; Shooting; Skate; Snow Australia; Softball; Squash; Surfing; Swimming; and Wheelchair Rugby.

As part of the AIS Pathway Funding Commitment, Paddle Australia received funding for four projects across sprint, slalom and paracanoe pathway projects, with some of them spanning over the next two years.

These include:

  1. Slalom Pathways: Development Academy
  2. Sprint Pathways: Academy 24
  3. Sprint Pathways: Talent ID
  4. Paracanoe: Talent ID

“The Performance Pathway Solutions grants that the AIS have supported Paddle Australia with allow us to implement some of the important strategic priorities to ensure we remain internationally competitive over the next two Olympic/Paralympic cycles.  One of the areas that was identified in our recent strategic planning process was the need to re-establish very targeted and structured talent identification projects within sprint and paracanoe.  We’ve used this funding to support our SIS/SAS partners in establishing talent identification and development initiatives,” Paddle Australia National Performance Director Shaun Stephens explained.

“In our slalom and sprint disciplines we’ve also identified the need to provide increased development and competition opportunities for our most talented junior and U23 athletes by establishing Academy programs.  Whilst Covid has meant some of the intended Academy activities have been put on hold, these Academy programs will provide our future champions with valuable development opportunities that will accelerate their potential,” Stephens added.

AIS CEO Peter Conde said high performance sports had identified supporting athlete pathways as their biggest challenge prior to COVID-19 and, despite this year’s disruptions to sport, it remained a priority.

“Pathways support is critical to the future of Australian sport, helping the AIS and sports to discover and develop our champions of the future,” Conde said. “In some sports, it can take eight to 12 years to identify and develop a talented young athlete with potential through to them being a contender for medals at major international events. It requires long-term planning, commitment and investment.

“Even with an immediate focus on Tokyo next year, we need to be thinking about the Olympic and Paralympic athletes who will be coming through to represent Australia at Paris in 2024, Milano/Cortina in 2026 and Los Angeles in 2028, as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

“It was important to begin by investing in the pathway workforce that will guide system and athlete development. Now we’re working with sports to initiate programs through our Performance Pathways Solutions Grants that will help progress these high potential athletes to become the very best they can be.

“The projects come in all different shapes and sizes, involving talent identification, enhancing training environments, providing competition opportunities and coach development. We have invested over a million dollars in sports such as swimming and athletics, focussing on such things as athlete data collection and resultant initiatives to minimise injury to young athletes. We’ve also invested in new Olympic sports such as skate and surfing as well as smaller sports like shooting and modern pentathlon, which both produced gold medallists at the last Olympics in Rio 2016.

“We thank the Australian Government for the funding that makes these sporting dreams possible for our next generation of athletes coming through.”