It’s just shy of two years until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and, of course, that means it’s time for the chief executive of the Australian Olympic Committee, Matt Carroll, to ask for more money.
Google ‘AOC chief more funding’. It seems like that’s his main job, popping up two years before the Olympics with his hand out.
Just so we’re clear, this isn’t the desperate plea of a man suddenly realising he might have to fly to Tokyo business class instead of first class, or God forbid, premium economy.
No, this time it’s serious, because if Australia’s elite athletes don’t get an immediate cash injection of $60 million a year, not only will we drop down the medal tally, “the only gold medal won will be the race to the most obese nation”.
That’s heavy stuff. He’s saying that without champions to inspire the next generation to hit the training track, we’ll soon be a nation of fatties that can’t get off the couch, and our glorious sporting history will be exactly that – a thing of the past.
He has a point. I can’t go anywhere without someone mentioning the amazing gold medal-winning performance of that dude in the sailboat, or the clay target lady, or them blokes in the canoe in London.
And how good was the win in that horsey thing at Atlanta? Who could ever forget that? It’s all inspiring stuff and part of the national psyche.
In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic because I’ve also seen the headmaster of my daughter’s public primary school working the barbecue at three different weekend sausage sizzles this year. I’m sure she’d like a little sniff at the $60 million that Matt Carroll is asking for.
Maybe it’s nothing to do with funding anyway. Maybe the medal tally is going down because we’re just not that good any more. Or maybe it’s going down because people don’t really care too much about sports like laser sailing, canoeing, archery, trampoline and modern pentathlon.
If one in 100 Australians could name the five disciplines I’d be very surprised.
Maybe parents don’t have the time or energy to run their talented little offspring to fencing, or badminton, or rhythmic gymnastics. The world is changing and a two-week sports carnival that happens every four years might not be top priority for a lot of people.
Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at the funding model. Instead of haggling for a government handout every couple of years, maybe the AOC should get with the times and start selling its services. Think outside the box. Remember Dean Lukin, the heavyweight weightlifting gold medallist from Los Angeles in 1984. He got fit lifting tuna out of the Southern Ocean. Plus he earned money while he did it.
Let’s start training our Tokyo 2020 athletes the same way. Put two archers in a canoe and get the Men’s K4 1000 team to start paddling. There’s good money in ethically caught tuna.
Forget about catching the ferry to work in Sydney. Get the Aussie rowing team involved. If they can row a boat full of commuters from Manly to Circular Quay, they’ll crush the opposition in Tokyo.
What about the corporate dollar? Geelong footballer Garry Hocking once changed his name to Whiskas to help his club get out of debt. Why can’t the Tokyo 2020 athletes do that?
Mack Horton could change his name to Evinrude Outboard. World champion canoeist Jess Fox could change her name to Ray’s Outdoors and the women’s water polo team could become ‘The Floaties’.
It’s a small sacrifice and that’s what elite sport is all about. Making sacrifices.
Whatever happens, good luck getting more money out of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Remember he’s the champion bloke who said Australian workers should no longer rely on receiving the age pension. So if there’s no money for me when I retire, then it’s time Olympic athletes started pulling their weight.