Australia

Champion calls for urgent review into Triathlon Australia after Tokyo Olympics

Half of Fame triathlete Emma Carney has called for an immediate review into the administration and coaching of Triathlon Australia.

The two-time world champion and nine-time Australian champion has emailed Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck, detailing “the decline of a once-dominant nation”.

She said people in charge of the sport should be held accountable for “extremely poor” performances at an international level, including the Tokyo Olympics.

In the men’s event, the Australians finished 16th (Jake Birtwhistle), 24th (Matthew Hauser), and 26th (Aaron Royle).

Only one Australian finished the women’s event (Emma Jeffcoat – 26th), while Ashleigh Gentle and Jaz Hedgeland were lapped out of the race.

The Australian mixed relay team finished ninth out of 17 nations.

Australia’s triathlon program lacks leadership and direction according to former champion Emma Carney.(

Getty Images: Cameron Spencer

)

“The triathlon mixed relay made its debut in Tokyo and Australia received government funding for an expected silver medal,” Carney said.

“The Triathlon Australia high-performance program is lacking direction, leadership, transparency, and is failing our athletes in providing an environment where they can perform against the best in the world with resilience, determination and a focus on excellence.

“There is an urgency to dismantle a rigid hierarchy of coaching and performance centres where all decisions are controlled by a head coach towards a home coach environment where coaches of athletes have greater freedom to train their athletes as they see fit.

“There is an urgent need to review triathlon and those in key positions overseeing this culture — the CEO, the president, the board and the performance director.”

Carney dominated international triathlon in the 1990s.

In 2000, she unsuccessfully contested her non-selection for Australia at the Sydney Olympics.

Emma Carney takes a drink as she competes in a triathlon in Melbourne in 2003.
Emma Carney won multiple world championships.(

AAP: Delly Carr

)

She retired in 2004 after suffering a heart condition.

A member of the Triathlon Australian Hall of Fame and the International Triathlon Union Hall of Fame, she is now a coach.

Her letter made allegations of bullying, high-performance selection inconsistencies, gender inequality, and a failure of the sport to sign up to the Sport Integrity Australia’s national integrity framework.

“It is urgent — and vital for the athletes, both current and future – the government steps in to stop this terrible decline of a sport that has the ability to inspire our nation through world-class sporting success, as it once did so proudly,” she wrote.

Carney said she was concerned Triathlon Australia was wasting taxpayer money.

Aaron Royale pours water on his head during the triathlon.
Aaron Royle finished 26th in the men’s triathlon.(

Reuters: Hannah Mckay

)

“A greater proportion of TA’s total funding is being directed towards salaries of TA employees,” her letter claimed.

“Whilst overall membership numbers (including elite athletes) are in decline, staff levels continue to rise. In addition, athlete performance on the world stage has declined while staffing levels have increased.”

Triathlon Australia’s president is Michelle Cooper; chief executive is 1991 world champion Miles Stewart; performance director is Justin Drew.

Triathlon Australia issued a statement in response to Carney’s letter without naming her.

The sport said it would instigate a “rigorous” Australian Institute of Sport review of its performance after the Tokyo Paralympics.

The statement said Triathlon Australia was “committed to a culture of respect within a safe and fair sporting environment”, and it urged “any athlete or coach to raise any specific concerns with Sport Integrity Australia”.

Mr Colbeck’s office has been contacted for comment.


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