Athletes will receive a timely financial boost in their Tokyo 2020 preparations as part of the Australian Olympic Committee’s (AOC) Medal Incentive Funding program.
A total of 192 athletes across 17 summer Olympic disciplines will receive $2.375 million based on medal results in 2018 to assist in preparation for Tokyo 2020, to be distributed from February 2019.
Under a framework agreed with sporting national federations, the AOC program provides support directly to athletes based on medal results at international benchmark events, such as World Championships, each calendar year.
Winning 18 gold, 19 silver and 20 bronze across Tokyo 2020 disciplines in benchmark events in 2018 has Australia ranked 5th in the world, behind only USA, China, Japan and Russia, based on performances from the designated events.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll said the funding was essential to help elite athletes train and prepare for the next Olympics.
“Australian athletes are working tirelessly as they build towards Tokyo 2020 and the AOC’s Medal Incentive Funding will assist in their preparation,” Carroll said.
“Investing in athletes helps ensure athletes and sports are positioned to give the Games their best shot.”
“This funding, which is provided by the AOC on top of athletes’ other funding sources, will have a meaningful impact on athletes and allow them to continue to focus on achieving their Olympic dreams.”
Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said the impressive results are a good indication that Australian athletes are positioning themselves well for the year ahead.
“Full credit to our athletes who performed at a very high level throughout 2018,” Chesterman said. “Fifty-seven medals across 17 sports confirms that the athletes are tracking well just 18 months out from the Tokyo Olympics.
“Of course, everyone knows that competitors from many countries will step up as the Games get closer, but our athletes and our sports should take heart from showing they are capable of producing world class performances in the lead up to the 2020 Games and they deserve every encouragement.
“It’s particularly good to see Australians performing so well in events that will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo, like the Mixed Team Triathlon, Surfing and Skateboarding.”
Strong results from Australia’s rowers will see 30 athletes receive a total of $425 000, with 18 swimmers receiving a combined $320 000.
2016 Olympic rower Lucy Stephan, who won 2018 World Championships silver with her teammates in the Women’s Fours, said the Medal Incentive Funding allows athletes to focus on their preparation and performance.
“This funding gives us the flexibility and freedom to focus on what we need to do to be at our absolute best,” Stephan said.
“It’s hard to work a normal job when we’re training three times a day. We have three sessions a day for five days – this includes a long row in the morning, a strength and conditioning session and a long erg or another row in the afternoon – and another session on Sundays.
“Additional funding helps take away the burden a lot of athletes are under – the burden of worrying about rent, or servicing the car, or whether we can fly home to see our families.”
Stephan, from Nhill in western Victoria, is based at Rowing Australia’s Penrith National Training Centre and spends up to three months each year travelling for competition.
“I’m very much a homebody and really miss Australia and my family and partner when I’m away. But I love my sport and love what we have to do to get better every day.
“It’s really cool to be part of such a strong rowing squad that is performing well and striving to do everything we can to be at our best at Tokyo 2020.”
Funding is based on results at World Championships or other equivalent events nominated by their National Federation, with $20 000 for gold, $15 000 for silver and $10 000 for bronze. Each athlete is only eligible for one Medal Incentive Funding payment per year, so an athlete’s best result is used if they win multiple medals. Members of medallist teams and other combinations like relay teams are eligible for the same AOC Medal Incentive Funding as individual medallists based on the Olympic team squad size.
Click here for a full list of Medal Incentive Funding eligible athletes for 2019.