Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) will continue to lobby for high performance program funding for its athletes, according to Executive Officer Tony Scott. His comments come after Cycling Australia announced the winding up of its Mountain Bike Cross Country High Performance Program at month’s end yesterday.
"Although the reduction in funding for our high performance program is disappointing, MTBA remains committed to supporting our elite riders and providing a pathway to the elite level of the sport," Scott said. "A key part of that is the current four round national series, the national championships and state series run by our member clubs.
"The national series has always been an important stepping stone for riders with ambitions to race on the international stage and has been the proving ground for some of Australia's best cyclists, across any discipline of the sport, including Cadel Evans and Trent Lowe," he said.
Scott noted that Australia’s mountain biking success wasn’t dependent on Government funding, with successes outside of the high performance program including those by current four cross world champion Jared Graves and dual downhill world champion Sam Hill.
"MTBA will continue to work with Cycling Australia to look at ways we can maximise the overall cycling resources to benefit those currently within the MTB High Performance Program and those who are just on the fringe of achieving that level," said Scott.
MTBA believes success on the international stage has helped drive the organisation's annual 10 percent growth over the past four years. With that in mind Scott said he’ll continue to push lobby for a mountain biking high performance program.
"We see part of the sport's growth coming from the inspiration provided by our elite riders," Scott said. "It is for this reason that we will continue to lobby for the funding of our high performance program and continue to invest in the national series as a pathway for riders who aren't part of the high performance program and for those who are inspired, just to ride their bike, by the riders who represent Australia on the international stage."
Funding will be reduced from six scholarships down to three in 2010. Cycling Australia said it had decided to focus funding on areas where it had the greatest medal prospects for the 2012 London Olympic Games following a cut of AUS$1 million in Government funding this year compared to a year earlier.