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ASC’s Hollingsworth rejects ‘Winning Edge’ criticism as Australian sport faces Olympics test
As the Rio 2016 Olympic Games gets underway, Australian Sports Commission Chief Executive Simon Hollingsworth has called on critics to stop attacking the Winning Edge policy.
Interviewed for a feature in WAToday, Hollingsworth, a former Olympic hurdler, is adamant there is a "unity of purpose" in sporting communities as Australia aims to improve on its medal tally from the 2012 London Olympics.
Australia won eight gold medals at the London Olympics and finished eighth on the medal tally.
The article suggested that the Winning Edge funding overhaul of Australian sport, implemented at the end of 2012, will be facing its biggest and most tangible test during the Rio Olympics.
It highlights that “the program has been the source of angst in sporting communities” citing criticism from Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates.
The Winning Edge funding formula prompted a shift in the way monies were allocated to different sports and put more onus on the sports to produce world champions rather than rely on Australian Institute of Sport scholarships.
Speaking before leaving for Brazil, Hollinsgsworth told WAToday "we're a little bit surprised that the criticism has been ruthless and highly targeted.
"When you look at the numbers, we support 35 sports and that doesn't support the notion we exclude smaller sports.
"You can't keep standing still, we need to look at doing things differently to stay ahead of the competition.
"I think there's a really great unity of purpose and clarity in what we're trying to achieve, and that's to get Australian sport back on top.
"I think there's a much greater level of accountability of spending what is essentially public money. The notion that you just get funding is not how the methodology works.
"You have to produce results over a period of time. We haven't just ripped the rug from underneath individual sports' legs ... we're playing a longer term game."
Coates has been vocal in its criticism of the shift to Winning Edge and says abolishing Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) scholarships has turned the Canberra campus into a ghost town.
ASC Chairman John Wylie has formed a committee to shore up the future of the AIS and its high-performance centre, inviting Coates, Ric Charlesworth, Lauren Jackson and Lisa Alexander to maximise the use of the Canberra base.
Smaller sports feared they would be left on the scrap heap by the introduction of a new model, but funding statistics show cash injections have increased by $40 million over the past four years.
That includes significant increases for sports including badminton, sailing and water polo, while table tennis, archery and wrestling have suffered cuts.
Olympic shooting champion Russell Mark said on the eve of the Games Winning Edge needed to deliver in Rio and claimed the funding model had hurt his sport.
But under Winning Edge, funding for shooting has increased from $7.3 million to $8.3 million.
The AOC, which reportedly sits on financial reserves of over $100 million< has increased funding for 22 of the 29 Olympic sports under its banner over the past four years.
The Winning Edge program is a 10-year plan to lift the country into the top-five on the medal tally.
Sports that fail to produce world champions, Olympic or Commonwealth Games medals risk losing some of their funding.
Hollingsworth told WAToday “we're investing for an outcome ... getting back to top five on the medal tally remains the goal.
"Everyone agrees that top five is really hard to get to. We have the athletes to get to top five ... we're confident we have supreme talent. But that's a stretch target, we just want to see improvement from London."
"You'll have some blips, but all the signs suggest we'll have a really strong showing in Rio.
"I don't accept that Winning Edge is to the detriment of smaller sports, I completely reject that and you can see that through funding."
Click here to read the original story.
Images: Simon Hollingsworth (top) and Australia's Olympic swimmers (below).
16th May 2016 - AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF SPORT CONFIDENT AHEAD OF RIO GAMES
24th February 2016 - AIS REWARDS EXCELLENCE AS AUSTRALIAN SPORT BUILDS MOMENTUM
3rd April 2014 - AIS’ ‘SPORTS TALLY’ SHOWS AUSTRALIA WORLD CHAMPIONS IN 25 SPORTS
30th November 2012 - AUSTRALIA'S WINNING EDGE TARGETS WORLD BEST RESULTS
13th August 2012 - AOC’S COATES SLAMS MANAGEMENT OF AUSTRALIA’S OLYMPIC SPORTS
6th August 2012 - AOC’S COATES CALLS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO SCHOOL SPORT
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