31 October 2023
The Minister for Sport, The Hon Anika Wells MP delivers an opening address at the World Class to World Best conference at the AIS in Canberra, and spoke passionately about the vital role she sees sport playing in this country.
Good morning, friends.
Thank you, Kieren, for the invitation to officially open World Class to World Best.
With less than 12 months to go until the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, I am pumped… for what will be an incredible event but also for how we can ensure Brisbane 2032 puts Paris in the shade.
A mission all of you are critical to executing.
I was in Paris last month visiting event locations and was fascinated by the progress and the challenges their Olympic organisers are facing.
Witnessing the impact, the 24 Games is already having in France has, to put it bluntly, fired me up.
So, I can only imagine how everyone in this room must be feeling.
The joy felt by our artistic gymnasts who secured Australia’s first women’s team quota place since 2012.
The thrill for Chelsea Gubecka, our first athlete with a ticket to Paris to compete in the swimming marathon, hopefully in a clean and healthy River Seine.
And when I think about Paris, one athlete that regularly comes to mind is Jess Fox.
Jess was raised in Penrith thanks to Sydney 2000 but was born in France and speaks the language.
Jess has won medals at every Olympics she has competed in. Her mum, Myriam is her coach and one of the too few Women in High Performance Coaching.
After the Fox’s Paris campaign, they focus on the 2025 Canoe Slalom World Championships held in Penrith- capitalising on our green and gold decade of opportunity.
We asked Paddle Australia what they needed for Paris, and we are now proud to fund their canoe slalom kayak cross project- which will benefit Jess’ sister, Noemie - among others.
This project gives Paddle Australia their best shot at multiple medals and personal bests.
That medal project is one of 56 projects we were proud to give the green light to, by virtue of a $5million funding boost.
That was in addition to the $15 million allocated to meet the rising cost of travel as part of the 24 Olympic and Paralympic Preparation Fund.
We also distributed an extra $1.3 million targeted at Winter Olympic sports. $450,000 in funding to support Talent Identification and Pathway Entry programs for Paralympics Australia.
And that’s on top of the $257 million dollars invested in Olympic and Paralympic sports across the four years leading up to Paris 2024.
And plus, another recent announcement - $200m for Women and Girls sporting facilities through Play Our Way – the largest infrastructure fund ever for female sport to help the pathway to high performance.
Delivering funding to where it’s needed is one of the best parts of my job.
And it speaks to one of my key lessons from France – our prime focus should be on impact rather than legacy. We don’t need to wait for 2032 to make a mark. We have already begun delivering that impact.
A few weeks ago, I was at the top of the water ramp facility at the Winter Training Centre in Brisbane watching Olympic Champion Jakara Anthony train with the moguls squad.
The irony of getting a tan on a beautiful Brisbane spring morning, while watching world-beaters ski amongst the gum trees at the home of the 2032 Games was not lost on me.
I bring up these examples – Australia's winter Olympians training in board shorts, and Jess Fox, only 27, starring in a typically European dominated sport because they embody that Australian spirit – don't you dare underestimate us.
If you can’t tell, I am so proud to be Australia’s Minister for Sport. And prouder still of this united, high-performance, strategy built around sustainable success.
Success matters. We saw that through the boot of Cortnee Vine curling the round ball past France’s Solene Durand in the most watched sporting event in Australian history. The Matildas winning galvanized a nation. The Matildas winning changed women’s sport forever.
The Matildas not only winning but Winning Well created the greatest World Cup ever held in this country. Winning matters. Winning Well matters more.
That World Cup left a high-water line we quite simply must exceed with Brisbane 2032.
The Australian Sports Commission, Kieren and I are determined to drive better outcomes for greater and more diverse participation on the green and gold runway.
We work closely together, and we are listening – our Paris 2024 funding announcements reflect that.
On that trip to France, my Sport Minister counterpart raved about the quality of the High-Performance Strategy that all of you have bought into.
That trip also crystalised the impact I, and our Government, want to make. We want sport to be more accessible for all people. We want equity so women thrive on and off field. We want more women making decisions for more women.
We want more Myriam Fox’s. We want to create real-world manuals others study for decades. We want to stage more best-ever events. We want to win and Win Well.
I hope you all have a rewarding three days and leave this wonderful facility even more pumped for Paris and beyond.