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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Tamsyn Manou's blog - Great read

Tamsyn Manou's blog - Great read

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1 Tamsyn Manou's blog - Great read on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:26 am



Tamsyn's Blog
My Thoughts…
June 11th, 2012
by tamsyn

Well it’s been a long while but when better to write a blog than this week!

I really want to start this blog with just saying how much I love my sport. Track and Field has run thru my veins all my life and I hope that even thou retirement is imminent it will continue too for a long while to come. The reason why I say I hope, is because when I was young I would watch so many of the athletes I loved and admired in our sport in Australia give their heart and soul and then disappear from the scene completely. As I got older I learnt that they would often leave disillusioned and soul destroyed, needing to completely turn their backs on a sport that they had also once loved like me. They would often insinuate that the sport had chewed them up and spat them out.

Thankfully even thou the later part of my career feels like that, which is extremely sad, I still love it. And I desperately want it to change for the better so dwindling registration numbers’, lack of depth and our athletes who give so much don’t walk away from the sport ever. I love watching the Grand Final of football codes every year. There is always a big attempt by clubs and codes to really recognize the efforts by their players.

Retirement in Football and Cricket comes with functions and cavalcades where they are applauded for the efforts put in for their sports. In track and field the sad part is at the top level you are thrown on the scrap heap, often before your time and the elitist way that is slowly destroying the heart and soul of our sport at grass roots is paradoxically the only place where an athlete on their way out gets any sort of recognition and support. The club system is still trying to survive. Some clubs like mine, Sandringham, are shadows of their former self however the core of the club is still beating strong. Everyday I wake up overseas to messages of support and encouragement. They are not paid to do this but they, like me, love the sport and recognize the effort and sacrifices an athlete makes. They are also clearly proud that an athlete is out representing them on the world stage! Since the Olympic Trials, which I won and have a B standard meaning I am IAAF qualified and could be selected I have heard little from the federation, Athletics Australia. Competing week in and week out domestically and abroad I think I have received only 1 text message the whole time without me being the instigator of the message. Chewed up and spat out! Speaking with people in popular other elite sports telling them of athletes plights they are disgusted to say the least. They are confused as to why we as a sport would prefer no Aussie in an event to putting a qualified Aussie in. Especially when I explain that the qualifying standards are good enough for semi final level. And that last bit comes directly from people within the IAAF. They raised the standards expecting countries to select the B’s if they only had a B as the B standard is truly world class still.

Last weekend after having 2 races in Spain I left my hotel at 6am arriving 13 hours later in the UK (cheap flights, not direct, long layovers) and had one more attempt at the A standard tired and flat. I was not alone. Many Aussies do the same thing on the hope of representing their country. Warranted lots haven’t done the B or A so can’t be selected but they all have the same desires and dreams.

The sacrifices our athletes make always amaze me and I wish the general public understood what they go thru to represent our nation. The fact that our federation has set standards tougher than the IAAF ones doesn’t deter some of them from still having a go! The tough Aussie way! Unfortunately more often than not thou it does break their souls eventually hence I rarely at meets around the country see the athletes I used to be on teams with or run with at interclub in the stands. Rather they move on and try and forget it, and in the crowd you see more empty seats each year. It perplexes me.

After being to 3 Olympics and 5 World champs I love nothing more than seeing an Aussie represent us, not once have I ever thought oh so and so shouldn’t have gone they didn’t make it passed the heats. I feel sorry for anyone that thinks like that. If an athlete is IAAF qualified and the best we have then how can you be nothing but supportive? I watched the Worlds last year and if there was no Aussie in an event I turned the channel. Speaking with the general public they do the same, the minority are elitist the majority are patriotic and want an Australian represented. I mean you get one chance every four years!!

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me however it would be nice if people understood what athletes are going thru to be selected. Athletics is a sport with so many disciplines, with the athletes being so varied in make-up. Then how do we apply the same strict standards on all of them? Australia is so far away from the rest of the world where the competition really is.

Still all athletes are expected to chase these standards in Australia and then spend money to head overseas if they are unable to get a world class A standard. For those unsure of how difficult an A is in most events I will use my event the 800m as an example: only 2 Aussie women have ever run the time electronically (hand times don’t count) in the history of the event! Plus at last Olympics only 5 athletes ran the A in the heats of which I was one of them.

So in Australia you want all athletes to do the same even thou the events are so varied. Lets think about this. Field eventers throw and jump and get up to 6 attempts at any given event to do the standard. They are on the runways and in the cage on their own no matter where they are in the world so is a little bit easier to replicate world conditions. The standards are still extremely tough thou as shown by Mitch Watt and Fabrice Lapierre in New York Diamond League overnight where they finished 1-2 respectively with neither doing the A. Sprinters rely on winds, which is tough if you only have headwinds and live in Melbourne! Yet on the positive they are at least in their own lane and can have heat and final on the same day and back up again the next day. Middle distance/distance runners are expected to do the A in fields that are often running well below the A. So an athlete is expected to lead the whole way if suitable pace cant be found and do the A. And then there’s the marathon? Well that is crazy tough generally they will only have 2 attempts yet AA made their standard even tougher. However they did back track, but only after making one of our best hopes do two marathons in 6 weeks which could be argued at the detriment to his Olympic preparations/peaking. Now, my point here isn’t its easier to be in certain events as the A standard is difficult across the sport in all events. However after being told by the Head coach a few years back that their focus would be on technical events it is clear that the events which are contested the most in the world of athletics 100m thru to 5000m are being neglected. Ok so we aren’t necessarily world-beaters yet in these events but I am sure 99% of Aussies still want to see a Josh Ross race Usain Bolt or a Mel Breen vs Allison Felix. At this stage we have no Aussie in the womens and mens 100m, 200m or 400m…yet we could have one athlete in nearly all these events. How is it better for the future and growth of our sport to not have an Aussie represented in these blue ribbon events??

Well I have never been a fence sitter. These are my opinions and my observations however having been a part of this sport for the best part of 2 decades I really want to make sure I don’t leave my sport bitter and feeling spat out. I love my fellow athletes. And I will always fight for the plight of my fellow middle distance athletes because I truly believe that there is a lot of ignorance within AA towards the discipline currently. I look forward to seeing the next crop come thru and I think the only way this will happen is if we start selecting and understanding the difficulties of the event especially chasing standards within Australia. It is not easy to run from the front and chase a time. Middle distance is not about time trialing when it comes to the first rounds, it is about racing!! The theory you have to be in it to win it should not be forgotten. When I won my world title they didn’t even have an Aussie flag for the victory lap because I wasn’t supposed to win…You will never have a Duncan Armstrong moment in our sport if we have empty lanes….

Oh and I shall not be retiring till after the European Summer…After running for so long I know when I am in shape and I will run sub 2 in the right race soon.


Having read the Herald Sun article and seeing the 'selective pieces' being quoted, I was keen to see the whole blog. Tamsyn makes a number of terrific points and in the context of her experience and contributionsto the sport it is shameful Tamsyn has not been contacted more often by the selectors or the head coach - if only offered some encouragement. I wonder how much the decision to double up at Beijing in the 400 & 800 has had a a detrimental effect on how she is being treated now. It was flawed judgement that should have been avoided. But that was four years ago and her contribution to the sport since then has been outstanding.

If I was a selector, I would have Tamsyn competing in the London Olympics because:
1. She has the B qualifier and would not be displacing anyone from the event. An Aussie in the event is better than none at all.
2. She would be competitive.
3. As a reward for her extraordinary contribution to the sport -a deserving send off from the sport.
4. There are other athletes in this team who will finish further down the rankings than Tamsyn would have.
5. AND if you look at the entire Olympic Games team across all sports, there will be 'people' representing Australia who have not put in a tenth of the sacrifice that Tamsyn has nor made the contribution she has made to the sport. How many officials & admin staff will be going and enjoying the Olympics?

Bottom line is she might not have an A qualifier BUT Tamsyn has paid her dues and deserves to be there.

Whatever happens it sounds like Tamsyn won't be lost to the sport for ever and will continue to make a contribution....and what an asset she will continue to be.

2 Re: Tamsyn Manou's blog - Great read on Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:23 pm


ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
Will make a complete mockery of everything if Tamsyns not there for athletics but Lleyton Hewitts there for tennis.
Tamsyn in form ,ready to run a big race and wouldnt have disgraced herself,
Lleyton bundled out in the first round in the last two tournaments hes played in completely out of form.
Doesnt make sense to me.

3 Re: Tamsyn Manou's blog - Great read on Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:10 pm


ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
Tamsyn is just the sort of person we want on the AA board. Tamsyn I hope you are not lost to the sport in retirement you have a lot to offer the future of Australian athletics.

4 Re: Tamsyn Manou's blog - Great read on Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:57 am


ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
Hewitts third round one loss in a row.
What a joke if he gets to the Olympics at his age and the best athletes we have in events are made to stay home.
Injury ridden ,past his use by date, what has Aust got to gain by sending him.

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