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A podium view

Welcome to the second edition of the AIS Sports Tally — the annual ‘health check’ for our high performance system. It reviews how Australia’s national sporting organisations have performed over the past year and provides a forecast for the year ahead.

Sports Tally was introduced as part of Australia’s Winning Edge and endeavours to provide an honest appraisal of the performance of each Winning Edge-funded sport, and the sector as a whole. There is no doubt progress is being made on many levels across Australian high performance sport and the AIS continues to be encouraged by t he effort and commitment of sports to improve their high performance programs and deliver strong governance for their constituents.

We are now more than half way through the summer Olympic and Paralympic cycle and two years have passed since the launch of Australia’s Winning Edge — the 10-year plan which sets out ambitious targets for Australia’s high performance sports sector to 2022. While last year there was further evidence of progress from sports, Australia’s performance at the 2014
Commonwealth Games in Glasgow provided a reminder of the significance of the challenge ahead.

In Glasgow, Australia lost the title of number one nation at the Commonwealth Games for the first time since 1986. There were some excellent breakthrough and world-class performances by the Australian team in Glasgow, such as the Australian women’s 4 x 100-metre swimming world record; however, there were also a number of sports which fell short of expectations.

Glasgow is not the only indicator as to Australia’s aspiration for the 2016 Rio Games, but it serves as an important and timely reminder of how competitive the world of sport is becoming.

For Australia to achieve the ambitious target of a top five finish at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it will require a combination of the right number of true medal contenders and the right level of conversion. This contest will be tight, and the margins for success small.

Australia’s traditional rivals, Great Britain, are expected to benefit from the ‘bounce’ of the London Games in 2012. Some of this was evidenced in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games. In addition, our neighbours in New Zealand have demonstrated what can be achieved with a very targeted and considered investment and performance approach.

From an Olympic perspective, Australia has made good progress throughout 2014 and remains on track to improve the overall position from London. Should this happen, it will be the first time since the 2000 Olympics an Australian team has improved its overall position from the previous Games.

The targets announced under Winning Edge were ambitious, and the plan, bold. The one thing that Australians can be sure of is that the AIS remains committed to the Winning Edge strategy.

While top five in Rio 2016 remains our goal we recognise, three years into the implementation of Winning Edge, this target is aspirational especially considering the high calibre of rival nations. That notwithstanding, we remain extremely committed and are working hard towards achieving  a top five finish at Rio 2016.

The partnership with the Australian Olympic Committee and Australian Paralympic Committee through Campaign Rio is continuing to ensure that the coordination of effort remains firmly fixed on achieving the best performance outcome in Rio 2016.

We are sure the overall high performance sector is headed in the right direction, as is shown in the confidence we have that we will improve on our results and overall placing from London. With the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast now less than three years away, the AIS looks forward to working with the Australian Commonwealth Games Association with ensuring Australian athletes are supported and prepared to again retain the status of number one Commonwealth nation in 2018.

But in reality, in cut-throat world-class competition, being world’s best comes down to the smallest of margins, which makes predicting the future imprecise.

The only certainty is that the competition in Rio will be extraordinarily tough; but we are equally  certain the changes made to the Australian sports sector since London under Australia’s Winning Edge have our sports on the right track for long-term, sustainable success.

In 2014 the AIS oversaw the re-allocation of $20 million of high performance funding among sports, increasing the share of funding to our foundation sports from 64 to 71 per cent, and boosted direct athlete funding — or dAIS — by $3.6 million.

We are building a more agile system under the Winning Edge to get the right support to the right sports and the right athletes, and we are committed to making further adjustments to investments where there is a compelling case as Rio approaches.

In 2014 we reviewed the national sport institute network to identify ways to make sure the models are working effectively. Following this review the AIS and state institutes and academies of sport (SIS/SAS) have made a commitment to identify further refinements and streamlining of the support systems across Australia to further enhance the combined benefits to athletes and sports.

We have launched a new high performance athlete learning and development platform, called myAISplaybook, which will help more than 1,800 athletes and assist them in developing careers outside sport and providing important health and welfare support.

In addition, we have seen more than 45 coaches graduate from the Centre for Performance Coaching and Leadership, which is designed to provide much-needed development and mentoring opportunities for our brightest coaches and administrators.

Of course, our sports have also been busy, not only supporting our athletes to succeed but also in embracing the changes that will ensure they remain competitive into the future. Their efforts are detailed in the following pages, however particular mention should be made of golf, netball, sailing and surfing — all sports that are considered to be among our high performers.

We look forward to working with sport across the high performance system in the year ahead. We are confident that with the collection of great people we have working together, we can continue to dream big for Australian sport.

Matt Favier

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