Twelve months on since announcing a $13 million support package, Australia’s best young and developing athletes from across the Commonwealth Games sports are benefiting from Commonwealth Games Australia investment and support.
With a focus on fast-tracking development athletes through to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the initial grants program consisted 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 were allocated to support the additional sports (women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball and para table tennis) which were added to the Games program in 2019.
Commonwealth Games Australia’s funding programs continue to support Australia’s best young and developing athletes as they compete across the world in our partner sports, here are some of the highlights from the past year of action.
Commonwealth Games Australia funding assisted Rugby Australia in sending teams to the World School Sevens international tournament held in Auckland, New Zealand in December 2019.
Australia’s young female rugby talent continues to shine on the international stage with the Australian girls’ schools sevens team winning the tournament.
Led by NSW’s Bienne Terita, who was named player of the tournament, the Aussie girls defeated Japan in the Cup final in Hamilton. Keebra Park’s Tiana Raftstrand-Smith and cross-code talent Jaime Chapman were all named with Terita in the team of the tournament after star efforts across the weekend of competition.
The surge of talented teenage girls in Aussie sevens is immense, with rising stars Maddison Ashby, Sariah Paki, Georgia Hannaway, Jakiya Whitfeld and Hagiga Mosby already playing with the Australian national team.
The Australian boys’ schools sevens team were unable to defend their 2018 title and were knocked out of the tournament by the New Zealand Fijian team in the semi-finals, but the team showcased the strong potential our young rugby players have now and as our rugby 7s programs continue to build towards Birmingham 2022.
Judo Australia continues to utilise Commonwealth Games Australia support to promote the opportunities for Australia’s best young judo fighters. The funding resulted in Australia being able to field a team in the first Asian Oceania Championships held in Taipei in July 2019.
The team performed exceptionally well against the best in the region claiming five medals – one gold, one silver and three bronze – with Abigail Paduch taking the honours of being Australia’s first gold medallist at the event.
The international competition was a major step in the development of young athletes’ pathways, with many on the team in contention for the team to represent Australia at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and beyond.
Entering its second year, the Australian Cycling Team Podium Potential Academy continues to see young cyclists positively progress in their quests to ‘learn to win’ at the highest level.
The focus of the academy is to develop athletes to target success at Birmingham 2022 and at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and beyond, while they are being immersed in a high-performance situation at the Australian cycling team headquarters in Adelaide.
The Commonwealth Games Australia support has resulted in three of the original 13 recruits of the program earning selection into the Australian Olympic Track Cycling team for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, assisting cyclists through the Cycling Australia pathway program.
For Hockey Australia, the additional support from Commonwealth Games Australia has assisted in providing seven talented young male hockey players access to the elite training facilities at HA’s high-performance centre in Perth and the ability to train with the national senior squad. The training has allowed some of Australia’s best young players the chance to test themselves against the world’s best, with two young men Kurt Lovell and Nathan Ephraums progressing from this training to make their debut for the Kookaburras in February of this year.
Secondly, Hockey Australia has benefitted from the support to enhance the athletic development of young female hockey players within the elite national pathway. Through an elite youth camp, which involved 27 of Australia’s best young female players, allowed Hockey Australia coaches, sports scientists and physiotherapists the opportunity to help develop the next crop of Hockeyroos. Before the squad held a four-match series against Japan’s national junior female team.
Commonwealth Games Australia support has allowed Diving Australia to conduct a national camp for the country’s best pre-elite divers in November 2019.
Affectionately known as the “Dream 2428 Squad”, the eight divers aged between 12 and 17 years of age were giving access to elite training and skills assessment from both state division coaches and the national team coaches.
Each diver at the camp was provided tailored and personal feedback and assessments to aid them in their own improvements as they aim towards Birmingham 2022 and international competitions in the future.
Bowls Australia utilised the Commonwealth Games Australia funding initiative to send our Australian Jackaroos on a four-series tour of the United Kingdom providing valuable experience on English greens to the team before the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The additional funding allowed the UK tour group to include three reigning Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal winning para-athletes. Lynne Seymour (Bob Seymour – Director) and Jake Fehlberg (Grant Fehlberg – Director) gold medal winners in the vision-impaired mixed pairs, and Tony Bonnell, one third of the gold medal AWD (Athletes with Disabilities) triples team were able to join the team on the international trip to provide them with invaluable experience of the conditions and what to expect come 2022.
Through the Commonwealth Games Australia funding, Triathlon Australia has been able to develop and progress our athletes’ knowledge and skills through facilitation of multiple opportunities across the Para triathlon, under-23, and junior athlete groups.
In May 2019, Triathlon Australia held para triathlon cycling camp at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) designed to bring an extended group, including support staff together at in a multi-facility, elite training environment. The camp not only allowed support staff to assess and address any needs of the group, including equipment needs but also promoted team culture within the national team program.
Triathlon Australia conducted an under-23 development camp in March 2020. The camp provided an identified group of pre-elite young athletes with an opportunity to broaden their understanding of the mixed relay competition specific event demands and expose the young athletes to examples of the technical and tactical practices of the “worlds best” triathletes.
The technical and tactical exercises including cornering, u-turns, drafting, change over and transition drills, and tactical awareness training to help prepare the young triathletes for their next elite competitions.
Funding for Netball Australia allowed the organisation to conduct a national talent camp and international tour series in 2019.
The camp and tour initiative allowed young netballers to receive enhance individualised athlete and international team development, ensuing in improved performance. Closely aligned to the Australian Diamonds national senior team program, the talent camp saw an increased level of team cohesion, provided a clear focus on playing the ‘Australian way’ of netball, and gave the young players exposure to world class coaching in a challenging training environment.
The funding initiative provided Netball Australia with the ability to engage Deakin University to support the data analytics project. The project provides an analysis of the existing performance of Australian Diamonds match data to develop a sound understanding of the variables which can assist in predicting success and failure.
The Commonwealth Games Australia funding to Squash Australia allowed the organisation to focus on two projects, including a specialised focus camp for Australia’s pre-elite squash players, and establishing an Australian doubles tour.
The Squash Australia focus camp was attended by 12 young squash players who each received high level individual support programs and allowed the young players to receive coaching and training from the coaches and support staff at the National Squash Centre.
This camp allowed these squash players to receive advice from and practice with Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal winning athletes.
Squash Australia used the funding to establish an Australian doubles tour which provided players with greater exposure to the doubles format. Our squash players won gold in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles, and bronze in the women’s doubles at the Gold Coast 2018 Games, seeing Australia top the medal tally in the format, which our team aims to do again at Birmingham 2022.
Commonwealth Games Australia funding assisted Athletics Australia with establishing the “85/65” javelin program.
Building on the golden period Australia is enjoying in the discipline, spearheaded by Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist Kathryn Mitchell and current world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber, Athletics Australia is focusing on building the success heading into Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games by having our male athletes reach 85m and our female athletes reach 65m distances.
The program is producing results, in 2019, two male athletes, Nash Lowis and Liam O’Brien have thrown over 80m for the first time in their careers, and Barber and Mitchell continue to throw over 60m.
Athletics Australia was able to utilise the funding to assist in fielding a team at the Oceania Championships, which is an important precursor to the World University Games, being able to send a number of young athletes to the championships meant they were involved in a senior team environment and coaches.
Swimming Australia has utilised the Commonwealth Games Australia funding to host national event camps prioritising sub-elite swimmers to participate in building the depths of talent pools in the men’s and women’s individual medley events and the 200m distances in breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly disciplines.
The funding has allowed Swimming Australia to assist emerging coaches in fast tracking their development to prepare for senior national representation leading to greater numbers of elite coaches in the national pathway system.
This coaching focus has also included identifying and promoting the skills of para mentor coaches, which is successfully improving the identification and support of developing para athletes and their coaches. This particular focus includes guiding the technical direction of Swimming Australia’s para coaches and athletes in their home environments and at state and national meets.
Through the Commonwealth Games Australia funded national training plan, Table Tennis Australia has been able to establish five development and pathway state and territory training agreements in Tasmania, Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory.
These agreements provided state squad members with the ability to hold weekly training sessions throughout 2019, sessions which will recommence when the current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The 2019 Oceania Cup was a great success for our table tennis athletes, where the four Australian team members finished 1st and 2nd respectively in the men’s singles and women’s singles competition to qualify as Oceania’s representatives at the World Cup.
Jiang Fang Lay defeated Parleen Kaur in the women’s, and Hemming Hu defeated Rohan Dhooria in the men’s competition.
The CGA funding initiative is assisting Table Tennis Australia to develop training programs for two para-athletes who have been able to access specialist services in the areas of strength and conditioning, physiotherapy and sport psychology. The training programs have allowed both athletes to develop and implement holistic programs which have fast-tracked their development in the lead up to Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games where para-table tennis is part of the sport programme.
2020 Kurt Fearnley Scholarship
The 2020 Kurt Fearnley Scholarship welcomed its second class of cohorts in April, a joint program between the Carbine Club of NSW and Commonwealth Games Australia, with support from New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS), welcomed six talented young para athletes based in NSW.
Designed to support para-sport ‘future talent’ athletes who receive limited support elsewhere and fast track their development to achieve success at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Kurt Fearnley Scholarship holders receive financial support up to $3750 based on their individual requirements, NSWIS program and, most importantly, mentorship from one of Australia’s greatest athletes Kurt Fearnley.
The program inducted 17-year-old long jumper Kailyn Joseph, welcomed back wheelchair sprinter Aimee Fisher for a second year in the program, Aimee is the current Australian champion in both the T54 100m and 200m races. 17-year old track and road cyclist Benjamin Said joins the program after impressive performances across 2019. Swimming all-rounder Oscar Stubbs is the fourth recipient, Oscar competes in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and medley events in the s13 vision impaired category winning five gold and three bronze medals at the Australian age championships in 2019. Australian Devils wheelchair basketball team members, Jessica Cronje and Maryanne Latu round out the six scholarship holders for 2020. After starring for NSW, both Cronje and Latu were chosen to play for the Devils, which is the national under-25 team, at the 2019 world championships helping the team claim the silver medal.
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Six budding young para-sport athletes are the recipients of the 2020 Kurt Fearnley Scholarship. The scholarship is a joint program with the @carbinensw which is designed to support para-sport ‘future talent’ athletes who receive limited support elsewhere and fast track their development to achieve success at the @birminghamcg22 Games. Recipients receive financial support up to $3750 based on their individual requirements and @nswinstituteofsport program support up to $1000 including assistance with performance planning and access to NSWIS facilities, and most importantly, mentorship from dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist @kurtfearnleyinsta. Click the link in our bio to learn more about the 2020 class and hear the inspirational message from their mentor Kurt Fearnley. #KFS2020