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PROTRACK » GENERAL » John Quinn's warning to Aust T&F

John Quinn's warning to Aust T&F

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1 John Quinn's warning to Aust T&F on Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:26 pm



Track coach's warning after Delhi 'wake-up call'
By Daniel Lane
Sydney Morning Herald
October 17, 2010

RESPECTED track coach John Quinn has warned unless Athletics Australia competes with the football codes to recruit young athletes it will take years for the sport to regain what's becoming lost ground.

Quinn, a sprint coach for Australia's 2000 Olympic team and now a member of AFL franchise GWS's coaching staff, said it was too early to hit the panic button after the track and field team's showing at Delhi.

Advertisement: Story continues below Despite competing against weakened English, Canadian and Jamaican teams, Australia's track and field medal haul was the worst since 1954. However, Quinn said it would take the world championships - if not the the London Olympics - to highlight where Australia ranked internationally.

It was vital that Athletics Australia find ways to give young athletes the opportunities rugby league, union, AFL and football provided for talented youngsters.

''It's a bit of a wake-up call,'' he said. ''We're not getting now the significant funding in the development programs. The United Kingdom is outspending us two-to-one on development and if we don't arrest that decline it'll take a decade to get it back. Other sports are pumping money into their development and taking the best athletes available. Why wouldn't they go? ''

Quinn was concerned Australia was in danger of having a generation of teenagers who do not fulfil their potential because they are not pursued by the sport's governing body.

''At the end of the day we have some potential world champions who are choosing not to play sport,'' he said. ''You classify that under opportunity lost. How many superstars does the Third World have that they never recognise because they're beggars on the street and begged since they were five years of age with a bowl in their hands and scrounging for money? They'll sadly never know if they could be an elite athlete or a doctor or lawyer because they don't get the opportunities. Australia is not the Third World and our kids should have the opportunities to be anything and everything they want to be. There should not be opportunity lost in a country like this.''

Quinn said athletics had a wonderful opportunity to capitalise on the success in Delhi of athletes such as hurdler Sally Pearson to encourage children to join local athletics clubs.

''In terms of the Commonwealth Games I don't think there are too many people sitting in their lounge rooms across Sydney thinking, 'Oh gee, our medal [tally] is down on four years ago','' he said. ''What they'd be saying to their kids is, 'Isn't Sally Pearson fantastic? If you join an athletics club you might be like her.'

''I go to the local shops around Essendon and there's a number of African migrants walking around and you think, 'Look at the athleticism of that guy.'

''They're hanging around shopping centres but to get them into athletics we have to capture their imagination and give those kids opportunity.''

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