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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Is Australia's fastest woman worth $12,000?

Is Australia's fastest woman worth $12,000?

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1 Is Australia's fastest woman worth $12,000? on Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:28 pm

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http://www.smh.com.au/sport/athletics/is-australias-fastest-woman-worth-12000-20140212-32hnv.html

Is Australia's fastest woman worth $12,000?

Michael Gleeson
The Age
February 12, 2014  


Twelve thousand dollars. That's how much we are talking about here. It's little more than the cost of flying a politician to Sochi.

It might buy you a little Korean runabout, it would also buy you a bit of funding for the fastest Australian woman ever. A little bit.

It would also have bought a significant amount of support both tangible and intangible – my sport believes I can do it.

Consider instead that the athlete who on Sunday became Australia's fastest woman ever receives no direct funding from Athletics Australia and has no guarantee that that picture will change. (It probably will, but as yet we don't know.)

Why is she not funded? Because she might be the quickest Australian woman, but her achievement plainly surprised those governing her sport.

Furthermore, funding is also in part allocated on a mathematical hunch about whether she is also good enough to be one of the quickest eight women in the world. Funding emphasis is placed unashamedly on the likelihood of winning Olympic or world championship medals.

That Melissa Breen was not being funded before she broke the national record on Sunday is plainly wrong. That she has not immediately been given that money compounds that error.

The amount of funding we are talking about for the international category she would fall into is $12,000. A handful of the cream of athletics – Sally Pearson, Jared Tallent, Kim Mickle, Mitch Watt – get the top funding, which is still only about $40,000.

In fairness to Athletics Australia, and even to the Australian Sports Commission, you can only carve up a very small pie into even smaller pieces.

But the idea of being funded provides intangible as well as tangible support – the comfort of knowing you have the belief of your own sport, for instance.

When funding is reviewed after the national titles in April, Breen will get the money.

Athletics Australia chief executive Dallas O'Brien as good as said that this week when he noted – despite not being on the panel that assesses funding – that it was "highly likely it will be looked at very favourably".

Of course it should, but with athlete funding nothing can be presumed until the dollars are in hand.

But why wait and allow one glorious day of achievement to be grubbied by petty trifling over a piffling amount of money?

Breen is 23 and ran a time quicker than the eighth finisher in the final at the world championships in Moscow last year. (The argument that the semis were faster than the final so, theoretically she would not have been quick enough to make the final, is a sad sort of self-justifying pedantry).

Breen's times have been good and getting better – with a PB a year for the last three years – and she is now in the frame of the quickest women in the world. That is all that needs to be known. The sport should be clamouring to embrace her and promote her as an exciting new face in athletics, not scuff its feet in embarrassed denial.

Breen's time might be a one-off. What we do know is her chances of being quicker will be greater if she gets some help. And she is young, a marketable face for a sport that has to scream to be heard over the clatter from the big sports.

The fact Breen is competing in a blue-riband event should not be lightly weighted in this argument. The beautiful simplicity of the sprint captures the public imagination more than any other track event. This is what drags people to the track. A young, attractive woman who is the quickest we have seen in that event, turning up when you need her most, brings to mind the idea of a gift horse and a mouth.

What Athletics Australia has also been delivered is the true competition it has craved. For years, Sally Pearson has been the second-quickest Australian woman ever – putting aside the fact she is a hurdler and it is not her event. On Sunday, Breen followed up her 11.11 seconds record by beating Pearson head-to-head in a time only 0.04 seconds slower than her national record. Pearson was the first to congratulate her.

Pearson would have hated being beaten, but privately appreciated the fact that women's track in Australia is no one-woman show now. Competition excites her and us.

Hopefully it excites the funding panel and all of those twelve thousand dollars come her way.

14 comments so far - as per the SMH website

"Athletics has no supporter base or following. Lucky to even get $12K."
Commenter James Location Melbourne Date and time February 12, 2014, 3:37PM

Except for me... and thousands of others.
Commenter Joe Location Coast Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:07PM



This is taxpayers money. If she wants to run she can run but no taxpayer handouts.
Commenter Abbott. Location Date and time February 12, 2014, 3:46PM “

I bet you are first to turn on TV during summer games and complain when we don;t win though....
Commenter matt Location melb Date and time February 12, 2014, 3:54PM



I largely agree. Society should put money into non-essential activities such as sports and the arts, for the development of a well-rounded community. But if one chooses to enter a short-lived and poorly-paying career, then it should not be the responsibility of society as a whole to subsidise that individual.
Commenter Glorygirl Location Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:13PM



Good on her for being the fastest. She should apply for the scholarships in US and get around 4 times more with education. Love to see another champions like Marjorie Jackson, Betty Cuthbert etc...
Commenter Wayne Location St. Albans Date and time February 12, 2014, 3:49PM “



Yes. exactly. great opportunity to get a scholarship and awesome education. And Athletic Aus should pay for her flights .
No brainer i reckon

Commenter keeno Location syd Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:12PM



quote "When funding is reviewed after the national titles in April, Breen will get the money."
so she has peaked unexpectedly, and rightly so will get the money when this is reviewed in a couple of months
so whats this article about then actually?

Commenter matt Location melb Date and time February 12, 2014, 3:51PM



Funding for athletes in this country is so inequitable. I hope Melissa gets the funding and sponsorship she rightly deserves
Commenter Jen Location Date and time February 12, 2014, 3:52PM



And yet $2mil for Schapelle. Priorities, eh?
Commenter 5318008 Location Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:01PM “

Pretty sure Athletics Australia isn't funding Schapelle.
Commenter Christo Location Adelaide Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:22PM

Well to be fair, she was also a runner.....
Commenter Herb Location Surf 'n Turfer's Paradise Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:22PM



How much finding do other national champions in sports with zero following and zero chance of Olympic gold receive? That's right... zero.
All sounds fair to me.
Commenter Phantom Location Perf Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:05PM “

Couldn't agree more, Phantom.
Commenter hannah Location melbourne Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:26PM



The age of entitlement is dead. Pay your own way and the government will be entitled to use you for free political advertising if you're successful. When will non politicians understand they are costs on the country balance sheet depreciating by the minute - which is lucky because you're worth more to Australia if you're worthless (meaning you'll work for nothing and take a loan out to pay taxes as the future fund needs your money).
Commenter John Location Heidelberg Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:11PM



Melissa has a better chance getting sponsorship with Channel 7 ..... All she has to do is get off the athletics track and become a drug runner instead....
Commenter Deals Location Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:12PM



I don't have a problem with athletes receiving government funding, but they should have to pay it back like a HECS bill.
Commenter Noodles Location Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:13PM



she chooses to run. If she wants to compete overseas, then let her pack boxes at coles or have a day job to fund it.
Commenter tax payer. Location Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:22PM



Strange article. grown ups know its wasteful to spend tax dollars on adult sports. there is likely zero benefit to society, most likely a negative impact when considering the opportunity cost of directing finite funds into sports.
Commenter leopard Location syd Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:24PM



It's totally worth it.
I hate the English working class attitude to money middle class Australia mindlessly adopts.
She should get at least $100,000 and every blue collar worker down the pub on a week night after work who has an opinion on the matter should be bloody grateful that their country is being represented in any way by a human being like this.

Commenter V&E Location NSW Date and time February 12, 2014, 4:25PM

http://protrack.easyforumlive.com

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