The Daily Telegraph today featured a story called “The Great Coach Poach” relating to how Australia’s greatest sporting coaches have guided overseas althletes to at least 14 gold medals in swimming, rowing, cycling and triathlon.
While these coaches are no doubt good at what they do, it is no doubt that the payment of lucrative salaries that are encouraging Australian coaches to takes their skills offshore.
Denis Cotterell is rumoured to have been paid $500,000 after Chinese swimmer Sun Yang won gold in the 1500m and 400m freestyle events. Ken Wood, another swimming coach, stated “China pays four times what I get from Australian swimmers” he said. He added, “It would frighten you if I told you the amount.”
The AOC deputy chef de mission, Kitty Chiller was reported as saying “We can’t deny them a livelihood. By allowing them to coach overseas athletes we are still getting the benefit from them.”
Shane Sutton is the personal coach of Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins also won gold in the individual time trial at London 2012. Fellow Australian coach Tim Kerrison is also supporting the British Cycling Team.
The Telegraph quantified the “expat tally” this way:
- Cycling: Shane Sutton – 4 gold; Tim Kerrison – 1 gold
- Rowing: Paul Thompson – 3 gold; Tim McLaren – 1 gold
- Swimming: Ken Wood – 2 gold; Denis Cotterell – 2 gold
- Triathlon: Brett Sutton – 1 gold
Until Australian sport can offer salaries commensurate with those that can be earnt overseas, this sporting “brain drain” is set to continue and to the detriment of Australian sport.