Commonwealth Games Australia’s funding programs continue to support Australia’s best young and developing athletes as they compete across the world.
From the recent World University Games in Naples to the Pacific Games in Samoa and a myriad of other international sporting events, young athletes from across the Commonwealth Games sports are benefiting from the $13 million Commonwealth Games Australia is investing in national sporting organisations and athletes in preparation for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The initial grants program consists of $4.155 million in project funding for the 18 Birmingham 2022 sports for projects in 2019 and 2020 targeting pre-elite athletes who have their sights set on the 2022 Games. Further funds have been set aside to support the additional sports (women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball and Para table tennis) which are proposed for addition to the Birmingham 2022 program by the Commonwealth Games Federation.
The recent Summer Universiade saw 127 athletes from eight Commonwealth Games sports compete, including 14 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games team members and four Commonwealth Youth Games team alumni.
Gold Coast gold medallists Eziyoda Magbegor (Basketball) and Jemima Montag (20km walk, team) joined and discus thrower Matt Denny among Australia’s four gold medal winners from the Games.
In total, $334,000 has been allocated directly to 50 athletes through Next Generation or dAIS funding since 2014 and from the current funding program, Commonwealth Games Australia allocated $111,000 to Athletics Australia for a preparation camp and athlete levies for the Universiade. The results produced Australia’s best track and field team performance at the Games, winning 10 medals – four gold, four silver and two bronze medals – equal to the gold medal tally from Belgrade in 2009, and easily Australia’s best total medal haul from a Universiade athletics. The previous best was five medals from Belgrade 2009 and Gwangju in 2015.
At the Pacific Games in Samoa, 36 athletes from Commonwealth Games sports competed, including 13 members of the team from the Gold Coast and four from the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas across athletics, rugby 7’s and weightlifting. Gold medals in athletics were won by Gold Coast team members Brianna Beahan (100mH), Alexandra Hulley (hammer), Keely Small (800m), Ian Dewhurst (400mH) and Steve Solomon (400m). In weightlifting, Kaitlyn Fassina (87kg) and Brandon Wakeling (73kg) won golds.
Since 2003, $141,000 has been distributed to these athletes in the form of dAIS, Next Generation or Direct Athlete Support funding.
In other Birmingham program funding updates:
Emerging badminton players recently competed in the Australian Badminton Open in Sydney and the national junior training camp held at the AIS, from which the team for the World Junior Championships in Russia in September will be selected. There will be a further national junior camp at eth AIS in August.
Diving Australia conducted a national squad synchronised assessment camp in Brisbane in January. Several pre-elite divers were invited to train amongst the elite divers and to participate in training with multiple partners allowing the next generation to rub shoulder with the best in the country. Such was the success of this camp that two of the young divers, Cassiel Rousseau and Emily Chinnock were selected for the 2019 world championships team. Emily paired with Melissa Wu to finish 8th in the 10m synchro event and Cassiel finished 9th in the 10m platform at his first ever world championships, a spectacular result. Sophie Johnson and Nikita Hains earned selection for the Summer Universiade and several pre-elite divers competed in Grand Prix events in Europe to gain valuable experience – the German Grand Prix in Rostock and the Italian Grand Prix in Bolzano.
Gymnastics Australia’s Building for Birmingham 2022 (B4B2022) project commenced by providing support to pre-elite men and women’s artistic gymnasts competing at the 2019 FIG Junior World Artistic Championships in Hungary in June.
The Australian Under 21 men’s team travelled to Madrid for the 8 Nations Tournament in June. Australia played pool matches against India, Spain, Netherlands, a semi-final against Germany before meeting Belgium in the playoff for 3rd and 4th, ultimately finishing 4th on the table. The tour provided an opportunity to expose the next tier of athletes to a higher quality opposition and European style of play which is paramount to their ongoing development and future progression to the Kookaburras squad.
Meanwhile key national training centre coaches and support staff from the SIS/SAS network have been in workshops focused on culture, style of play, training and service provision with the specific purpose of increasing the quality of training and development of athleticism in their emerging female athlete cohort, enhancing the understanding of the coaches/staff on what is required to advance young female athletes and their immersion into senior international match play.
The Jackaroos completed a 14-day tour of the UK with a four-test series, which included matches against Ireland, Wales and Scotland and England, including a series at Leamington Spa – the venue for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – in addition to venues in Cardiff and Berriew, Wales. The main aim of the tour was to enhance the exposure, knowledge, tactics and understanding of playing on the outdoor greens in the UK. The series featured able-bodied and Para-sport bowlers.
The National Girls Program is holding weekly training groups in Sydney and Brisbane and the National Youth Squad have come together every three weeks for training camps, completing six camps in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. The camps are designed to fast-track the girls into contention for selection into one of the AON University Competition teams, the senior women’s domestic competition that takes place between September and October and in preparation for the World Schools tournament that takes place in New Zealand in December.
Swimming Australia has appointed Greg Towle as a new mentor coach and is working with the Birmingham 2022 cohort. Since January a number of program visits have been conducted for 85 developing Commonwealth Games aspirants. With the Parasport classifications and events for the Birmingham not yet confirmed, Swimming Australia is focused on a wide group and building the skills and improving the daily performance environment for the next Commonwealth Games hopefuls.
The Para-triathlon program has held two camps – a combined cycling camp with Cycling Australia in Melbourne and a three-day Para-triathlon specific camp at the AIS Canberra. In addition, wind tunnel testing with Rio Paralympic gold medallist Katie Kelly and guide Briarna Silk was held at Monash University. More athletes will participate in the wind tunnel testing in future pending competition schedules.
The total 2019-2022 funding includes $2 million in direct athlete support in the final 18 months leading into the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The remaining $11 million will fund initiatives which CGA believes will most likely contribute to its aspiration of being the number one nation in Birmingham.
The funding is targeted at able body and para-sport athletes for projects that are focussed on the Commonwealth Games, and includes specific 2022 campaign funding, which will come after the Tokyo Olympic Games, so this current round of funding targets the pre-elite and ‘next generation’ athletes who now have their sights set on the Games in Birmingham.
Between 1996 and 2018, CGA has provided in excess of $43 million to its members and athletes with the funding coming entirely from income from investments held in the Australian Commonwealth Games Foundation, sponsorship rights sales and fundraising activities and has been boosted by legacies of hosting home Games in Melbourne and now the Gold Coast.
The 2016-2022 “Building Team Success” strategy will help sports and athletes in these crucial two years before the final lead into Birmingham where the goal is to be the No.1 nation in both gold and overall medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
CGA will continue to work with partner sports and high-performance partners at the AIS, Paralympics Australia and State/Territory Institutes of Sport to ensure the best possible preparation for Australian athletes to compete at the Commonwealth Games.