National 100m record holder Melissa Breen believes the low level of funding she has been allocated indicates a lack of belief in her by Athletics Australia (AA).
Breen had her funding cut last year, only to respond in the best possible style by beating Melinda Gainsford-Taylor’s longstanding national record with a time of 11.11 seconds in February.
Two months later, the 23-year-old learned she had been assessed by AA as a Commonwealth level athlete, rather than an international one.
The six-month Commonwealth arrangement entitles her to a pro rata amount of $4000 – which she must account for – in addition to services at the Australian Institute of Sport.
“The category I’ve been put into is not what I thought I would be in,” Breen told AAP on Thursday.
“I have run the times to be in the international category – I’ve run 11.11 and then 11.15 so, if you look at it on face value, I’ve actually run quicker.
“Despite running PBs in the last three years, I think AA still don’t have the belief in me to be able to be top eight come the Rio Olympics.
“To be put into the category for six months is some kind of reward for the season I’ve had but not where I thought I’d be placed after breaking the Australian record.
“I’m a little bit disheartened about it.”
Annual funding for international-level athletes – including Breen’s training partner and 400m hurdler Lauren Wells – is $12,000, compared to $8000 for Commonwealth level competitors.
AA high performance director Simon Nathan said Breen was one of several Australians who had produced one or two international-standard performances.
“Specifically for Mel, her time was fantastic but what we also want to see is consistency, producing times on the day, under pressure,” he said.
“We haven’t got that whole picture for Mel yet.
“We want to support her through to the Commonwealth Games and see what she does there.
“If she reproduces in Glasgow, then that’s the last piece of the jigsaw and we’ll absolutely put her higher up the program.”
Breen was among seven athletes added to the funding program on Thursday.
The only four Australians on the top level are Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson, fellow Olympic medallists Jared Tallent and Mitchell Watt and world championships silver medallist Kim Mickle (javelin).