AU National Team in Funding Anomalies for Sochi Winter Olympics 2014
By Athena Yenko | February 26, 2014 2:47 PM EST
The Minister for Sport, Peter Dutton, expressed gratitude for how the national team brought honour to the country.
"The Sochi Games highlighted just how competitive international sport is and while some of our athletes did not reach the lofty goals they set for themselves, there is much to celebrate. All 60 Australian athletes in our team have given the nation their best effort on the back of years of dedication to get to Sochi and I congratulate them and the wider support team for their achievements," Mr Dutton said.
However, the national team's success happened not without controversy as there had been reports of alleged funding anomaly surrounding the snowboard athletes.
In a report from AAP as published in the Web site of the Australian Olympic Committee, the issue about funding was sparked by an email sent on the eve of Alex Chumpy Pullin's snowboard cross event.
Chef de mission Ian Chesterman told AAP that the issue went out of hand when it was pointed out that Pullin had funding allotment amounting to approximately $500,000 over four years. However, Pullin's allotment was decreased and lowered compared to what other snowboard team had received. It was alleged that the decision to lessen Pullin's allotment was made to accommodate proposed scholarships for two other riders.
Mr Chesterman denied the accusation and said that a new and improved funding cycle made the scholarships possible.
However, it was observed that due to the controversy, Pullin's performance at the Olympics was gravely affected.
"I don't think any man is an island. There were a lot of things going through Chumpy Pullin's mind on the morning of his race. It was already delayed by one day and I'm sure that (criticism) wasn't helpful either. It certainly doesn't help to have criticism from the outside launched on the eve of competition," Mr Chesterman explained.
As a whole, the national team seemed to underperform after the controversy was aired out. They finished the last day with medal tally of three. This was not expected as the team size was increased by 50 per cent, yet no gold was brought home.
Mr Chesterman admitted that the team might have gotten affected by the controversy.
"I think some of the distractions across the Games have been very unfortunate for us as a team administration and I think that it's unfortunate that the Australian public back home get the sense that there's a disunity in the team because there hasn't been," he said.
However, Ms Chesterman said that the team was a success in the overall aspects of the Games.
"It has been a fantastic team that I have had the pleasure to lead."
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