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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Beckenham may lose AA funding if he doesn't move to Sydney

Beckenham may lose AA funding if he doesn't move to Sydney

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I’ll leave ACT if I have to: Boden

By David Polkinghorne
Canberra Times
September 3, 2012

Lauren Boden could be moving away from Canberra.

CANBERRA track queen Lauren Boden will quit her AIS scholarship to stay with coach Matthew Beckenham if she has to.

Beckenham's contract with Athletics Australia runs out at the end of the year and high-performance manager Eric Hollingsworth wants the successful mentor to move to Sydney and set up a hurdling program in the Harbour City.

But Beckenham doesn't want to leave.

He thinks Canberra is the perfect place to continue his work with some of Australia's most promising track stars.

Staying in the ACT means he has all the resources of the AIS on his doorstep.

But without AA's backing both Beckenham and his stable could lose all that.

And his AIS athletes – hurdlers Boden and Brendan Cole – would have to choose between staying loyal to their coach or keeping their scholarship.

AIS athletes are only allowed to work with AIS-contracted coaches.

While it's a tough decision for Boden, it's also an easy one.

She's only ever had one coach and plans to continue working with Beckenham – even if it means giving up her AIS scholarship.

Boden made the semi-finals of the London Olympic Games in the women's 400-metre hurdles and doesn't want to change what is obviously working, even though that would have massive financial implications.

She would have to pay for coaching and medical fees, things she gets for free with the AIS.

"I don't know all the ins and outs of the situation but I know for myself if staying at the AIS means that I can't have Matty as my coach, I would forgo a scholarship in order to stay with him as my coach," Boden told The Canberra Times yesterday.

Hollingsworth approached Beckenham in the lead-up to the Olympics and floated the idea of moving to Sydney.

AA thinks Beckenham could best be used working with Sydney's bigger talent pool.

But Beckenham is happy in his home town and isn't going anywhere.

He thinks the ACT is the perfect place to continue his work – the AIS has all the facilities and technology he could ever need.

Several athletes have approached Beckenham and want to move to Canberra to join his program.

He sees no reason to leave and wants to stay loyal to his athletes as well.

Beckenham hoped a compromise could be found with AA that would keep all parties happy.

AA and the AIS are currently reviewing all their programs post-London.

"The concern for me is I've worked hard to set up stuff here and create an environment that works well and utilises all the fantastic facilities and services here at the Institute of Sport," Beckenham said.

"It'd be a shame if we started to move away from the AIS and the experts and facilities here, so I want to try and be the person who's utilising that more and more in the future and hopefully getting more athletes moving to Canberra . . . that's the way that I'd like to be moving forward."

If Beckenham did move, it would force his athletes to move as well.

The coach feels it would not only impact on his athletes' lives but the ability to attract the next batch of track stars.

He felt the profiles of both Boden and 100m sprinter Melissa Breen in Canberra brought kids to the track.

That would be lost in Sydney where their profiles are much smaller.

Breen remembered what it was like when she was a kid and wants to be a similar role model.

"I guess for [the kids it's important] to realise we're not this superhero, we're just normal, we're training hard and we're working towards our goals," she said.

"And it wasn't that long ago [we were kids, too], Lauren's 24 and I'm 21."

She was also hopeful of getting an AIS scholarship to help her develop towards the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.


I don't get the article title "I’ll leave ACT if I have to: Boden" no where in it does she say she will leave ACT?

Matty B should do what he has always done.

That is what he thinks is right! as obviously he has got the results, As an outsider looking in to me it seems that Matty has had to build what he has himself with limited support and now that he has succeeded they want to do what?

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