Table Tennis Australia won’t receive a cent from the Australian Institute of Sport for its able-bodied high performance program beyond September, a decision officials insist is not comparable to other fringe sports and holding back its Olympic Games results.
Just days after record-breaking six-time Olympian Jian Fang Lay equalled Australia’s best ever performance at an Olympics – the 48-year-old made the third round of the women’s singles – TTA chief executive Scott Houston has raised his concerns with the country’s elite sports funding model.
The Australian Institute of Sport has pledged $115 million to 33 Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sports for the 2021-22 financial year, but table tennis won’t see a dollar for its able-bodied athletes after the first quarter. TTA will receive almost $600,000 for its Paralympic program.
Other Olympic sports in which Australia struggle to medal including volleyball ($2,361,832), gymnastics ($2,256,322), badminton ($410,00), weightlifting ($362,600) and skateboarding ($300,000) all received high performance funding for able-bodied athletes in 2021-22.
The grants and how they will be divided between the national sporting organisations will come into sharper focus in the lead-up to the Brisbane Olympic Games in 2032.
TTA was told its high performance funding would be stripped in 2019 because it was deemed a low probability of winning an Olympics medal or Commonwealth Games gold in 2022.
The AIS later agreed to provide $140,000 in transition funding to help the team through to Tokyo. The last quarterly payment of $35,607 has been included in this year’s financial grants, but the money will run dry after September.
TTA had previously received $253,000 annually and has not been able to source additional funding through a new program.