Breen faces early retirement
Sports reporter at The Canberra Times
October 21, 2013
Mel Breen could be forced to retire after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro if she doesn't receive funding from Athletics Australia following her appeal.
Her coach Matthew Beckenham appears to be on the outer with AA as well, despite the Canberra-based coach taking three athletes to the London Olympics.
Breen didn't receive any funding when AA released its new contract system, with most of the money paid to our top athletes and less help given to emerging talent.
The 100 and 200-metre sprinter had 30 days to lodge an appeal, which she did, and now she's waiting for a response from AA.
Rather than wait in limbo, the pair were pushing on with training.
AA were required to examine her case within 15 days, which expired at the weekend, and then give their final verdict ''as soon as practical after that''.
If the original decision not to fund Breen wasn't overturned, Beckenham thought the 23-year-old might retire after the Rio Games. The pair have already committed to working together until then, with Beckenham having a similar agreement with hurdler Lauren Boden.
Breen would only be 30 at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which she hoped to compete at.
''She's been told she's not a high priority from the sport and she's thinking 2016 might be it for her,'' Beckenham said.
''It depends on how well she can survive financially. Hopefully she can get support and get results, and make a career out of it.''
Beckenham has been offered a role as national relay coach, but looks set to turn it down and instead concentrate on finding ''the next Mel and Lauren'' as a private coach. He said he'd been offered a ''minimum contract'' with AA, well below what he thought he was worth.
Beckenham, who represented Australia as a hurdler at the Sydney Olympics, said it was ''disheartening'' his association with AA would end. But he said things would just go back to how they were in 2010 - when he wasn't associated with AA.
He was then brought on board with a two-year contract due to the success he was having with Breen, Boden and Brendan Cole, but looks to again be on the outer.
Beckenham said not being affiliated with AA would prove problematic when the Commonwealth Games arrive next year, if both Boden and Breen qualify.
''The reality for me is I don't think I'm a priority under the new Winning Edge [program] in terms of being a priority coach for Athletics Australia, and that's disheartening for me, given I've been committed to the system since 2005 as a scholarship coach and had repeated athletes on teams since 2009, with three on the Olympic team,'' Beckenham said.
''So it's hard for me to face that there's not much opportunity to be a coach in Canberra in the system.''