MELBOURNE (Reuters) -New Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) boss Ian Chesterman will look to secure more government funding to continue the country’s rise up the medal tables and retain talent in the lead-up to hosting the 2032 Games in Brisbane.
Chesterman was elected AOC President at its annual general meeting on Saturday, replacing long-serving supremo John Coates, who stepped down after 32 years in charge of the governing body.
The Australian government committed A$257 million ($182 million) in the three-year Olympic cycle to the 2024 Paris Games. Chesterman said he would seek more to ensure the nation could remain competitive.
“Clearly, we want to be successful in 2032. There needs to be a change to the way that we fund sports,” he told reporters in Sydney after defeating rival candidate Mark Stockwell for the AOC presidency in a landslide.
“The AOC is doing a lot of work in that space at the moment with our member sports to try and come up with a new platform which allows government to truly invest in us so that we’re successful in Paris, we’re successful in Cortina and Milano and we’re successful in LA and then onwards to 2032.”
Italy is hosting the next Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, with Los Angeles to host the 2028 Summer Games.
Australia claimed 17 gold medals at Tokyo to match its record haul at the 2004 Athens Games and took a record four medals at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.
Coates was relentless in demanding successive governments boost support for athletes and fought some bitter public battles with the national sports funding agency, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), and its former chief John Wylie.
AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll said the ASC was up for the funding “conversation” while the federal government had accepted the AOC’s recommendations.
“It doesn’t guarantee they (ASC) will like everything we say but that’s life,” he said.
Securing funding to retain and develop talent in women’s sport will be high on Chesterman’s agenda.
In recent years, professional pathways have opened for women in Australia’s major sports competitions, including the Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL).
This could mean a stiffer challenge keeping athletes focussed on winning Olympic medals.
“We have to be able to say to young people don’t … have a dream just to pursue AFL or NRL. Let’s pursue a dream of Olympic sports,” Chesterman said. “And then of course, for those who are younger, to have a dream of 2032.”
($1 = 1.4158 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard)