‘We’re not asking for billions’: Queanbeyan Gift prize money drops by 65 per cent

Julia Phillips of WA (white Bib) wins the Womens Queanbeyan Gift. Photo Jay Cronan Julia Phillips of WA (white Bib) wins the Womens Queanbeyan Gift. Photo Jay Cronan

Queanbeyan athletics officials hope their marquee event will be revived next year if it can survive the pain of an 65 per cent drop in prize money and a major hit to the number of female entrants.

The Queanbeyan Gift will be raced at Brad Haddin Oval on Saturday as part of the NSW Athletics League.

But the Queanbeyan Palerang Council has significantly cut its funding and the overall prize pool will drop from $40,000 in 2015 to $30,000 in 2016 and almost at a rock bottom of $14,000 this year.

The cash reduction has had a major impact on the fields, with just 12 competitors registering for the women’s 120 metre gift.

That has forced organisers to change its equal prize money model, with the female winner to pocked $3000 compared to the fastest man collecting $4500.

There are more than 40 entrants in the men’s field and male competitors pay a significantly higher entry fee than female athletes.

NSWAL president Bill Edwards says the regional gift series desperately needs an injection of $20,000 to “save them from uncertainty”.

“We’re not asking for billions or millions, just $20,000. You have no idea how far that would go,” Edwards said.

“In the past 10 years we’ve lost carnivals in Narrandara, Temora, Gilgandra and Coonabarabran … this is where we need to be running and where they need the most help.

“The Australian Sports Commission doesn’t recognise us and there’s a lack of interest from other areas.

“The change of the Queanbeyan council to Queanbeyan Palerang hasn’t helped [funding and prize money]. The sponsors we’ve got are great, but the entries are down 50 per cent this year.

“I’m all for pay parity and that’s what we’d love to do. But when you’ve got 12 entrants in the women’s gift, it’s pretty hard when entry fees are different as well.”

Queanbeyan Little Athletics president Joe Sheridan added: “Next year is going to be the telling factor for Queanbeyan.

“This year is hard, there’s bad timing with other meets on and it’s hard to judge against this year.

“It’s sad to see the small fields this year … I hope it bounces back. It’s been a little bit frustrating and in my opinion [the council] has acted very similar to a handbrake.”

The men’s field will be bolstered by the inclusion of eight-time Australian 100 metres champion Joshua Ross, who is using his first gift race in two years as a major hit out in his Commonwealth Games preparation.

Ross, 36, is hoping to make the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year his career swansong, determined to go out on his terms.

Winning at Queanbeyan would be a major confidence boost, but he will face a massive challenge as the back marker for the field.

“I’m actually feeling pretty good … I’ve dropped three kilograms in the last month or so and I’m feeling a lot more powerful,” Ross said.

“I’m here to win it and use it as training for the Comm Games. I’ve been trying to get back to form for the past two years … I’m just trying to rebuild.

“I don’t want to retire, I don’t want to leave on anyone else’s terms. Comm Games could be the end for me, but if I run like an animal I might keep going.”

Canberra’s Australian junior long jump champion Andrea Thompson, Kayla Sadler, veteran Davina Strauss and Lauren Keating will be in the women’s field.

Ross conceded it was disappointing to see the a massive drop in the Queanbeyan field and hoped organisers could find a way to reinvigorate the event.

“I can see the sport edging its way to a slow death … you could sit here for a week trying to get ways to grow the sport,” Ross said.

“I remember coming to Queanbeyan in my early days and it was packed. It’s a shame to see the drop.”


Saturday: Women’s 120 metres final at 4.15pm, men’s 120 metre final at 4.30pm at Brad Haddin Oval (Town Park), Queanbeyan.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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