Melissa Breen, the fastest woman in Australian history, received just $4000 in Athletics Australia’s latest round of funding. Photo: Katherine GriffithsFormer world champion marathon runner Robert de Castella has urged Athletics Australia to increase the amount it invests in developing athletes after sprinter Melissa Breen missed out on substantial funding.
Breen, the fastest woman in Australian history, received just $4000 – a third of the funding she was expected to receive – when AA released additions to its National Athlete Support Structure on Thursday.
AA wants to see Breen become more consistent on the international stage and threaten her own national record time of 11.11 seconds at a major competition such as the Commonwealth Games or world championships.
After Breen had received less than expected from AA, wealthy businesswoman Susan Alberti came to her aid for the second time in a matter of months – writing a cheque for $5000 after previously donating $12,000.
De Castella said that AA should reconsider its funding model to reward those athletes who need assistance the most while those already at the top have incomes from other sources.
”I don’t think four grand is enough to support these young, developing athletes,” De Castella said.
”A lot of the top athletes are on shoe contracts and getting funding from other sources, but it’s the ones who are in the category that Mel is at the moment who need the support to help them to get up to that next level.
“I’d really hope Athletics Australia are watching her closely and she demonstrates a bit more consistency and they will quickly recognise her and support her because we need some more good female sprinters.”
Breen is on the third-tier of funding of the national athlete support scheme at Commonwealth Games level, two ranks below the world class and international levels.
That is despite Breen having met the required time for the international standard of 11.21 seconds.
Paralympic Games gold medallist and world champion Evan O’Hanlon described the entire funding model as ”a token gesture to all of their athletes”.
“Everybody deserves more money across the board,” O’Hanlon said.
“You’ve got athletes like Mel who are running Australian records and are getting thrown a little side piece of meat.
”It’s not good for the broader image of the sport and not good for the athletes who are on the edge because they don’t feel like that they’re valued.”