Article by Julian Linden courtesy of the Weekend Australian.
Australia’s Olympic hopefuls have been given a massive boost to go for gold in Paris next year with Australia’s most generous sports supporter Gina Rinehart tipping in an eye-watering $3 million incentive for the big winners.
At the same time the government is crying poor about helping out our best athletes, Australia’s richest person has again dipped into her own pocket to give the country’s unsung sporting heroes a better chance of success
The patron of some of Australia’s most-loved and admired teams from both the Olympics and Paralympics – including swimmers, rowers, volleyball players and artistic swimmers. Rinehart already pours millions into helping these underfunded athletes chase their dreams
But this new $3 million scheme is a game chargers because it will reward competitors who won medals at selected world championships in 2023 and 2024 as well as the Paris Olympics and Paralympics.
By athlete standards, the incentives are unprecedented.
For exampleFor a team that won 3 gold medals and broke six world records, that’s like winning the lottery twice – because they also got bonuses from World Aquatics, the sport’s global governing body.
And it’s not just gold medals either. Anyone who wins silver or bronze medals at world championships or the Olympics and Paralympics will also get the bonus in the sports that Hancock Prospecting supports – with $1.5 million for each 2023 and 2024.
“Off the back of Australia’s record-breaking performance at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka in Japan, our best international performance, I know that the athletes stood on those blocks feeling so well supported by the long-term direct athlete support that we have received now for over a decade from Mrs Rinehart,” Australian Swimmers Association president Bronte Campbell said.
Rowing Australia president Rob Scott said: “The financial support Gina Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting has announced, incredibly is on top of the recently reported $60m+ investment she has already enabled over the last decade, that supports our fantastic world class athletes.”
Craig Carracher, President Volleyball Australia said: “Mrs Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting, have long been the humble, but reliable and generous backer of Olympic and Paralympic sports, supporting these hard working young people to strive to be their best and represent Australia on the world stage.”
The announcement of the incentive scheme comes at a time when Australian sports are struggling to make ends meet.
Earlier this year, the Australian Olympic Committee’s chief executive Matt Carroll told the National Press Club Australia’s smaller, traditional sports are heading towards a financial cliff because of a $2 billion reduction in federal government funding.
News Corp also revealed that the funding shortfall had reached crisis levels with some sports facing the heartbreaking prospect of telling athletes they can’t afford to send them to qualifying events.
Already operating on a proverbial shoestring, the costs have blown out since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics because of the rising rate of inflation and soaring travel costs, leaving cash-strapped sporting bodies needing a helping hand just to qualify competitors.
But just last month the government announced it had agreed to cover the costs for all the qualifying events for every sport at the Paris Olympics and Paralympics.