Home Australia At our national championships, Australia’s best athletes have 3.6 million more reasons to fight for Olympic glory.

At our national championships, Australia’s best athletes have 3.6 million more reasons to fight for Olympic glory.

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Oliver Hoare leads a race

For Australia’s elite athletes, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Ahead of the Australian Athletics Championships in Adelaide – the biggest national event on the calendar and a key milestone on the road to Paris – World Athletics announced a $3.6 million prize pool to be shared among gold medalists at the Games This year’s Olympics.

It is a groundbreaking move as athletics becomes the first Olympic sport to offer direct financial incentives to athletes in a sporting event that retains its amateur status.

While the reasons behind the decision by World Athletics (and its chief executive Sebastian Coe) will be debated in the halls of the IOC, in Adelaide you would be hard-pressed to find anyone complaining.

Indeed, for many of Australia’s biggest medal hopes, it is a decision that has been a long time coming.

Shortly after breaking the championship record with his first and only throw of the day, Australia’s leading discus athlete Matt Denny said World Athletics deserved credit for its progressive stance.

“I’m very excited. I’m very proud to say that athletics is leading the way in that regard,” Denny said.

“People say ‘$50,000 for four years of work isn’t much,’ but [World Athletics] They are ahead of the game, they are joining modern society.

“The Olympics are no longer an amateur event, so to pay these athletes what they deserve and to be the first to do so is pretty amazing.

“Hopefully other sports will join and maybe the IOC will hear this and join too.”

World pole vault champion Nina Kennedy also had a smooth introduction to her national championships, vaulting once to secure her place in Saturday’s final.

Kennedy agreed with Denny in his belief that athletes deserve to share in the spoils of the Olympic Games.

“That was really cool. And they’re right: the Olympics and World Athletics benefit hugely from that, so I think the rewards really need to go back to the athletes.”

Oliver Hoare supported the idea of ​​offering prize money to Olympic gold medalists.(Getty Images: Sarah Reed)

For most Australian Olympic athletes, making a living from their craft is extremely difficult. The money tends to come from sponsorship deals and grants from governing bodies.

The AOC has a program that rewards athletes for Olympic medals; However, it is dependent on the athlete continuing to prepare for the next Olympic Games and is a one-time payment for his or her best result, so an athlete who wins multiple medals only receives one payment.

It’s an issue that 1,500m runner Olie Hoare is keenly aware of, and while for now his focus remains solely on qualifying for the Olympic team, he can also take a look at a future generation that hopes this World Athletics plan benefit.

“It’s interesting that World Athletics is doing that because the Olympics don’t benefit them. In reality, if anything, it hinders them,” Hoare said.

“My experience with athletics and swimming is that they are sports that don’t make a lot of money, but they get a lot of attention and publicity during an Olympic year.

“But the Olympics are an amateur competition, and you don’t really get any money unless there’s a contract or you get sponsorship later.

“With the millions of dollars that go to sponsors of the Olympic Games, one would hope that some of that money would go towards grants for athletes in need, particularly certain events where many of them work three jobs and simply They try to prolong their lives.athletic careers.

“It’s great to see that World Athletics is starting to have some skin in the game.

“There are interesting things happening with the sport. I just hope it continues and helps younger athletes and generations below me grow and get more attention.”

Jessica Hull smiles after a race

Jessica Hull comfortably won her 1500m heat on Thursday.(Getty Images: Sarah Reed)

The opening day of the Championships in Adelaide highlighted Australia’s growing depth in the middle distance field, with Olympic placings in both the men’s and women’s 1500m set to be hotly contested.

Hoare was the fastest qualifier in the men’s heats, but Saturday’s final will see him go head-to-head with Stewart McSweeney and rising star Cameron Myers for the national championship.

Jessica Hull and Linden Hall dominated the women’s 1,500m heats as expected, setting up a final showdown between the 2021 Olympians.

A small number of athletes will be named in the Olympic team at the conclusion of the national championships on Sunday, with qualification still very much alive for most places as competition continues abroad in the run-up to Paris.

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