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A podium view

I am pleased to present the Sports Tally 2014. This report, which is the first of its kind, reviews the significant achievements across Australia’s high performance landscape for 2013. Very importantly, the Sports Tally reviews the progress of national sporting organisations (NSOs) across the interrelated areas of high performance, participation and governance so that all Australians remain informed about the relative performance and progress of Australian sport.

Supporting ‘Australian aspiration’ is at the heart of the approach outlined in Australia’s Winning Edge. The AIS, along with our sector partners, continues to strive to support the efforts of Australia’s best athletes and coaches in their daily performance environments. Under Winning Edge, a clear set of targets for each sport have been established and will be reported on an annual basis. In the report that follows, you will find an honest assessment of how sports have performed over the past year while also providing the basis for future areas of improvement.

Looking back

Performances by Australian athletes and teams in 2013 were encouraging and indicate that progress is being made across the system to improve opportunities for athletes to achieve success. In the post summer Olympic and Paralympic year — where athletes retire and new faces emerge — Australian athletes achieved 25 world championships across a series of Winning Edge sports and events (or equivalent).

From a system perspective, the past year has been particularly eventful with 2013 being the first full year under our new high performance game plan. We entered a new phase in Australian high performance sport in which funding for sports is being very firmly linked with results; governance structures are being modernised; and there is an increased level of investment in the areas of coaching, leadership, talent identification and innovation.

Results from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games were within range with three medals — equal to the best overall total medal performance by an Australian winter team. Silver medals from Torah Bright in the women’s snowboard half-pipe and from David Morris in the men’s aerials were the highlight, with Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold medallist Lydia Lassila providing a stunning display in the women’s aerials to win bronze. While leaving Sochi without a gold medal for the Australian team was below expectation, the depth of talent across several disciplines for Australia is very encouraging for the future.

The 2014 Australian Winter Paralympic team arrived in Sochi under difficult circumstances following the death of team-mate Matthew Robinson just prior to the Games. Toby Kane’s bronze medal in the super combined and Jess Gallagher’s bronze medal in the giant slalom provided cause for celebration for the Australian team. Not capitalising on several opportunities in Sochi, including no gold medal, resulted in an overall performance that was at the low end of the expected range.

Both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter programs will present their Winning Edge performance cases to the AIS assessment panel by mid-April 2014, which are the key determinants for future funding decisions.

The role of the AIS changed dramatically in 2013. Perhaps the most significant change was the move away from the direct delivery of high performance sport programs, including the provision of AIS scholarships and the employment of coaches. The newly defined role as Australia’s high performance sports agency was successfully transitioned throughout 2013 in preparation for full implementation from 1 January 2014. A consequence of this change is that NSOs now have clear and full accountability, aligned with their investment for the delivery of their high performance programs.

Among the highlights for 2013 were the:

  • launch of the AIS Centre for Performance Coaching and Leadership
  • announcement of Campaign Rio – a partnership between the AIS, Australian Olympic Committee and Australian Paralympic Committee
  • development and release of the new sports science/sports medicine principles
  • increased collaboration across the National Institute and Academy Network
  • 2013 AIS Sports Draft – Combat Sports initiative resulting in 12 athletes identified for fast tracking. 

Looking forward

The Commonwealth Games will be conducted in Glasgow in 2014 and will be one of the highlights for Australian teams and athletes. Australia will be seeking to perform strongly against high quality competition, particularly from England on the back of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For some sports, further evidence of future performance potential will need to emerge in 2014 to retain ongoing levels of funding. More needs to be done to ensure Australia has the most effective high performance system in the world. This will be an important focus for the AIS in 2014. The AIS, in partnership with the State and Territory Institutes and Academies of Sport, will conduct a review of the operating approaches across these bodies. It is an important project to identify those areas that are working well, and recommend areas of improvement if Australia is to remain internationally competitive.

A detailed review of the Direct Athlete Support program is underway to refine our approach and improve the alignment with the Winning Edge targets. Ensuring that Australia’s best athletes — current and emerging — are able to dedicate the time required to pursuing and achieving success is very important and will be a key task for the AIS in 2014.

In 2014, the AIS Canberra campus will host Centres of Excellence across a number of sports including: athletics, basketball, combat sports, football, netball, swimming and volleyball. The AIS campus will remain a Centre of Excellence for Sport Science and Sports Medicine, Research and Innovation and Injury Management and Rehabilitation.

In addition, in 2014 the AIS will soon be launching our approach to athlete personal excellence. Athlete welfare and support remains an important area for the AIS as individuals progress through their sporting career. The AIS will continue to focus on the AIS Sports Draft providing performance pathways for athletes with the potential to become an Olympic, Paralympic or Commonwealth Games champion.

I remain confident that the changes implemented in 2013 and the relative progress that has been made will position Australian athletes and coaches well for the future. In the year ahead, I look forward to supporting our athletes in all events, particularly the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Matt Favier, AIS Director

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