Fund­ing cuts put ca­reers in limbo

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JU­LIAN WRIGHT

WA Gym­nas­tics stal­wart Liz Chetkovich fought back tears last Wed­nes­day as she en­cour­aged gym­nasts, coaches and par­ents to protest fund­ing cuts to the West­ern Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Sport (WAIS).

About 200 peo­ple in the gym­nas­tics com­mu­nity ral­lied at Leed­erville’s Lof­tus Re­cre­ation Cen­tre in light of last Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment that WAIS would not fund its 28-year-old women’s artis­tic gym­nas­tics pro­gram be­yond this year.

WAIS ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Steve Lawrence said the de­ci­sion, made af­ter no­body from the pro­gram qual­i­fied for the Rio Olympics, would not be over­turned.

Chetkovich, the women’s artis­tic gym­nas­tics high per­for­mance man­ager, ad­dressed the hope­ful crowd seated in the cen­tre grand­stand and en­cour­aged them to keep speak­ing out against the de­ci­sion.

“Rep­re­sent your views in pub­lic, keep the mes­sage alive,” she said. “If you are wor­ried about some­thing there are peo­ple you can turn to.

“The coaches, ob­vi­ously it’s dif­fi­cult for them, their ca­reers are on the line.”

Six full-time coaches will lose their jobs in the cuts.

Gym­nast Paige James, whose future is now in limbo, said she hoped the de­ci­sion would be over­turned.

“It was a huge shock, I was on the way to train­ing when I found out,” she said.

“I think it’s crazy that it’s hap­pen­ing, I don’t re­ally un­der­stand why but I hope they re­verse it. It’s go­ing to be a lot harder to achieve what I want to achieve; I’d have to spend money on trav­el­ling in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“All these fa­cil­i­ties I’ve had...I just wouldn’t have them any­more.”

Her mum Penny said mov­ing in­ter­state was not an op­tion for the fam­ily.

She said Paige had carved a path for other fe­male Abo­rig­i­nal gym­nasts, who now may not have the chance at head­ing to the Olympics in the future.

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