The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has marked a key milestone, celebrating its 40th anniversary this week.
Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck said the AIS remains a lynchpin in Australia’s sporting success and its enhanced focus on athlete wellbeing, athlete pathways, coach development, innovation and collaboration all remain legacies of the AIS today.
“The AIS revolutionised Australian sport 40 years ago and today it remains an important and iconic symbol of Australia’s commitment to sport and the power of sport to inspire and unite our communities,” Minister Colbeck said.
“We celebrate this milestone with the AIS and pay tribute to those who have positively contributed to building Australian sport capability over many years.”
Some of the biggest names in Australian sport are among the 8,858 athletes who have been AIS scholarship holders over its successful history.
“In an Olympic and Paralympic year, we also acknowledge the integral role the AIS is playing to support our athletes in their preparation for the Tokyo Olympics,” Minister Colbeck said.
The AIS was launched by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in Canberra on 26 January 1981, comprising approximately 150 scholarship athletes across eight different sports to become Australia’s first and only official sporting institute.
AIS CEO Peter Conde said it has evolved to help lead the National Institute Network to positively influence more Australian athletes than ever before.
“As we should expect, the AIS does things differently now. Races aren’t won by standing still. But the intent of the AIS remains the same - to help Australian athletes realise their full potential in both sport and life.
“The AIS directly invests more than $145 million a year into 38 high performance sporting organisations and their athletes, including $14 million a year in athlete grants across Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sports.
We have progressed the support for Paralympics athletes, with funding up 40 per cent in the past eight years,” he said.
“We are partnering with sports to develop emerging athletes and coaching pathways. We are at the forefront of innovation, including research into athlete health and performance. We are exploring new frontiers like artificial intelligence and data analysis.
“We naturally strive to win and we care about athletes. Our approach to athlete mental health, wellbeing and community engagement has been crucial, especially in terms of supporting athletes through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Minister Colbeck said the next decade is exciting for Australian sport.
“There is a lot to look forward to. Australia will host the women’s world cup of basketball and football, we’ve invested in a bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup and, in the next two years, we are considering a bid for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The leadership of the AIS will continue to be pivotal.”