Libby Trickett Challenges Sports Bosses In Australia To Justify Fat-Cat Salaries As More Funding Cuts Loom


2020s Vision – The Athlete Voice

Libby Trickett, four-times Olympic champion, has called on politicians and sports leaders in her country to start putting athletes first as further threats of cuts in funding follow criticism that the Australian Institute of Sport has turned into the home not for podium placers but fat-cat, high salaried officials.

“When you hear of executives on such ridiculous amounts of money, you are like; ‘what do you actually contribute to the sport? How do you effect change? How are you making this easier for ­athletes to do their job?

“It still feels like Olympic sports are for amateur athletes, but you still train to a high level and, as well, perform to a high standard on a sometimes very small wage.” – Libby Trickett

The 2008 Olympic 100m butterfly champion spoke out after hearing that Swimming Australia has told its members to brace itself for funding cuts at the participation/birthing pool level as the squeeze on financial support for sport in Australia continues to grab headlines.

Leigh Russell, the Chief Executive of Swimming Australia – the nation’s top-funded Olympic sport, with $10.5m for high performance in 2019-20 – has told state swimming leaders to prepare for “some, if not significant, change” in funding, according to a report today in The Australian by Jacquelin Magnay and Jessica Halloran that starts with a stand first stating: Games Over – Swimming, the jewel in Australia’s Olympic sporting crown, faces funding cuts to its grassroots and fears major upheaval after the Tokyo Games.

Olympic sports bosses have even considered a proposal to band together and lobby the federal government for more money, she reveals in a letter before stating:

“Our instinct and reading of the messaging back is that an ­increase will not occur and a ­decrease is definitely not off the table.

“All Olympic sports have been discussing for some time how to work collaboratively with the Australian government to demonstrate our impact and reach within the Australian community.”

Trickett Sums Up How It All Plays Out For the Major Stakeholders: Athletes

Libby Trickett, contributor to three Australian gold-medal relays at the Games, tells The Australian that some athletes would be devastated if her sport lost funding at any level. She added: “For me it is disheartening. You want to see the athletes do the best they can and the only way they can do that (is) if they are able to focus on their craft, their talent.”

“You put in so much hard work and time for four years. To even have a shot at an Olympic dream, you need to be able to have that access to not only money, but ­facilities, great coaches, sports scientists, physiotherapists, it needs to come together as a whole. The way we do this is by creating organisations that have that at their core — it’s not about making money.”

The latest funding scare follows accusations that the Australian Institute of Sport has become a home for fat-cat, big-salaried executives and officers at a time when athletes and others are being squeezed and the actual results coming out of the AIS are not what they used to be.

The Australian stated that the AIS had “spent as much as $5m on recruitment companies and more than $7m on leadership coaching in two years, and half a dozen executives have salaries above $220,000, including Peter Conde, the head of the AIS, who lives in Queensland and enjoys an ­annual salary of $426,000”.

Trickett, who moved up from a Aus$1500 a year grant to getting about Aus$20,000 by the time she was was winning 24 gold, nine silver and eight bronze medals for Australia at Olympic, World and Commonwealth levels, said that sight of the fat AIS packages was hard to take. Speaking to The Australian she asked:

“When you hear of executives on such ridiculous amounts of money, you are like; ‘what do you actually contribute to the sport? How do you effect change? How are you making this easier for ­athletes to do their job?

She noted the drop: “The fact we are facing ­potential funding cuts is challenging ­because it is not like our ­expectations of athletes will then go down. We still expect them to perform and to come back with swaths of gold medals. How can you expect athletes to perform to their best if you don’t allow athletes the opportunity to look at it like a full-time job.”

“It still feels like Olympic sports are for amateur athletes, but you still train to a high level and, as well, perform to a high standard on a sometimes very small wage.” 



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Donald P. Spellman
4 years ago

The Aussies need to stop voting in climate change denying, uncreative, greedy, crass politicians and find some better political leaders. Trickett is right only up to the point that the current Morrison government is run by a clutch of fools……which is not much different than the Abbott or Turnbull coalitions before it.

Doug Schack
4 years ago

Donald P. Spellman but if you’re all in on climate change then you’re going to have to admit that competitive swimming (and all sports) at any level but especially the Olympic level is unsustainable and needs to be eliminated. This is carbon being introduced for no good reason.

Donald P. Spellman
4 years ago

Doug Schack : Thats ridiculous. Swimming is not what is killing the barrier reef or causing these inflated salaries to stay at the level they are down under.

Craig Lord
4 years ago

Here’s to voters far and wide learning to join dots. Agree that Dave’s elimination scenario is way over the top and misses the point, somewhat deliberately perhaps ?? … but swimming does indeed have sustainability issues ahead … and we’ll be looking at those in our 2020s Vision series as the year rolls on.

Fair sport
Fair sport
4 years ago

Maybe the DAIS funding that Swimming Australia team managers put swimmers forward for needs to be reviewed. The funding going out to paralympic swimmers is ridiculous. Swimmers who have only medalled for being on a relay team are getting upwards of $17500 for one event. Swimmers who are pretending to have disabilities so they can benefit from funding. The payments are online for everyone to see. There are swimmers being granted funding who dont deserve the amount they are getting and then you have swimmers who train their butts off and are getting no funding at all.

Maybe they need to review the payments and drop them to a more reasonable amount, take the job off the people in the role of nominating the swimmers and give it to someone who is not going to be biased in funding.

Hohn Uwe
Hohn Uwe
4 years ago

Is that not happening at all institutes and federations!?
More and more Manager positions everywhere, and in useless positions! New positions to control manager who control the work of others! But the support for athletes cut down! VIS looking to present themselves good at family days but closure facilities during a Olympic preparation again and again and this track is pretty useless especially for field athletes! If the track not booked from schools than it’s closed for mowing or other reasons!
Also a Athletics Australia throws coach who get paid from AA is working also for NAB spending not much time with his athletes! AA knows this but did nothing so far!

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