For many years the Australian Institute of Sport was the example for the rest of the world when it came down to sport science support. In nutrition it was, without doubt, Louise Burke and her team who have been leading the way! Today is a sad day for the AIS and for Australian Sport as Louise has decided to leave the AIS.
Leading the way
Many countries looked to Australia and the AIS to learn how to organise sport and provide a world class support system to their athletes. For me, it was a reason to visit the AIS at the beginning of my career and to set up research collaborations. I was excited to see the facilities, meet the people inside the organisation and still today, in the field of nutrition, many will look to Australia as one of the leading countries.
If I were in Australia’s shoes, and I thought nutrition is an important part of athlete’s preparation and I was interested in winning medals with my athletes, and I had one of the leading authorities in charge of your program, I would empower that person to expand my imperium. I would do everything in my power to keep the best people. But the AIS lets them walk away. They lost people like David Martin, David Pyne and many others and now Louise Burke.
This disintegration of the AIS began after the London Olympics when it lost top coaching, sport science and technical staff because of funding cuts. The AIS then decentralised the Canberra campus and abandoned athlete scholarships, saying sports should take control. The unique centre, that had a critical mass of creative and critical thinkers, passion for sport, incredible knowledge and practical experience was being dismantled.The AIS was unable to keep some outstanding scientists who also had a deep understanding of sport and who were very close to athletes, therefore understanding deeply what it takes to be an athlete and what it takes to win medals.
The big names quickly and gratefully grabbed up by teams and organisations elsewhere. Perhaps, the press release by the AIS reads a little like Louise Burke’s retirement, but I am sure that that is not what will happen. I am sure we will see Louise shine elsewhere, with more time to push her research or with more focus on other projects in the sports nutrition space.
I can't wait to see what is next, but for now, I just want to congratulate Louise for what she has done for the AIS and for the world of sports nutrition.
AIS thanks Louise Burke for immeasurable impact over three decades. https://ais.gov.au/media-centre/news/ais-thanks-louise-burke-for-immeasurable-impact-on-the-organisation-over-three-decades