Saturday, April 6, 2013

AA wants equal funding for disabled athletes

Speed to burn ... Evan O'Hanlon.

Speed to burn ... Evan O'Hanlon. Photo: Getty Images

ATHLETICS Australia is lobbying the Australian Sports Commission to get equal funding for able-bodied and disabled athletes as the sport undergoes a massive funding overhaul following the London Olympics.

It would mean Evan O'Hanlon, the world's fastest man with cerebral palsy, would be on equal funding with fellow Olympic gold medallist Sally Pearson - a massive boon for Australia's Paralympians.

The AIS scholarship system runs out on April 30, but athletes still don't know what the new tiered funding program will be.

O'Hanlon has been reassured he'll be ''looked after'', but was still nervous about the future.

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''[AA have] given us an indication of [what they've applied for] and to be honest it's pretty good,'' he told The Sunday Canberra Times.

''They're trying to get enough money that they'll be able to pay disabled athletes the same as the able-bodied athletes for the first time, which would be amazing. I'd be able to get on the same kind of contract with Athletics Australia as Sally Pearson and that would be the first time that has ever happened.

''But we've still got to hear back from the Sports Commission.''

While O'Hanlon is the world record holder in both the 100-metre and 200, the T38 classified sprinter wants to add the 400 record to his resume.

The 24-year-old has already qualified for the world championships in Lyon in July in the 100 and 200, now he'll look to extend that to the 400 as well.

He needs an A-qualifying time in the longer distance at the nationals in Sydney this week.

O'Hanlon competed in the 400 at the 2011 worlds in Christchurch, breaking the world record, but still finishing second. He hopes to rectify that this year in France.

''After Beijing I had a couple of years where I wasn't really motivated that much so just trying to change it up after London, give myself some new goals so I've got something to pump myself up in training every day,'' he said.

O'Hanlon took out the men's ambulant 100 at the Melbourne World Challenge on Saturday in 10.96 seconds - 0.15 faster than anyone else in the world.

Lauren Boden won the women's 400m hurdles. Her time of  57.04 seconds was just 0.09s outside a B-qualifier for the world championships to be held in Russia in August.

It was the perfect warm-up for next weekend's national titles in Sydney, where Boden, pictured, has the chance to qualify for Moscow.

Fellow Canberran Zoe Buckman finished third in the women's 800m, behind Kelly Hetherington in Melbourne.


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