The fall-out from the Rio Olympics continues to affect Australian cycling and the ramifications for the the elite mountain biking community is significant.
Funding from Cycling Australia to MTBA has been cut back by 80 percent and, despite the setback that this represents, the CEO of MTBA is optimistic about working with the Australian Sports Commission on finding a way forward.
“We needed to look pragmatically at solutions, rather than see the negatives,” said CEO Shane Coppin in a release issued by MTBA today, “and with the assistance of the ASC we were able to do just that.”
The upshot in financial terms is this: the funding provided by Cycling Australia for elite mountain biking in Australia was $300,000, with a focus on the cross-country racing – the MTB element that features at the Olympic Games.
Future funding from Cycling Australia towards the program will be just $50,000.
News that the ASC has agreed to provide a $75,000 grant following the funding cut from Cycling Australia is a sign that the Sports Commission is considering how to manage the various elements of cycling in the future.
Australia will host the MTB world championships next year (in Carins, Queensland – 5-10 September, 2017) but it would seem that Cycling Australia is not particularly interested in the prosperity of a sport that is introducing hordes of cyclists to the beauty of racing.
Membership of MTB associated programs is growing and there is much to be excited about in relation to the future of the many disciplines associated with mountain biking. Today’s news is a strong reminder that Cycling Australia has different priorities. Still, Coppin and his colleagues are trying to be optimistic about the future for the sport.
“There exists tremendous support and opportunities for MTB in Australia and the sport continues to grow with over 24 percent membership increase in the past 15 months.”
The news about the funding cuts does not appear on the Cycling Australia website but we can surely expect an explanation from CEO Nick Green in the coming days.
Shortly after the Rio Olympics, the manager of the High Performance Unit, Kevin Tabotta, confirmed his resignation. His position has been advertised and, going on the wording by the recruitment company, Olympic medals will remain the priority for funding received from the Australian government.
Exactly where mountain biking fits into the bigger picture of cycling in Australia remains to be seen but Coppin and his colleagues are confident of brokering an accord that will allow MTBA to progress despite recent setbacks in relation to funding.
The impetus seems to be a need for mountain biking to be recognised as national sporting organisations (NSOs) and break free of the administration that currently manages all forms of cycling: road, track, MTB, BMX, cyclocross etc…
* * * * *
This is an exciting time for cycling in Australia. The news for the mountain biking community isn’t particularly bright but the response from the administrators of that aspect of our sport is one of optimism and we will watch on in interest to see what transpires with the future management of our sport.
– By Rob Arnold