Judoka, MMA Fighter Duke Didier criticises AIS structure

Former Judoka turned MMA fighter Duke Didier has taken aim at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) claiming the government funded organisation has lost sight of what it’s goals are.

“I went through the Judo system and I spent a lot of time in and out of the AIS. When I first started there, at the AIS, it was the benchmark, it was the pinnacle. You went in there and saw all the athletes, all the top of the top in every sport and I saw them and that’s where you wanted to be,” Didier explained on the Give Yourself An Uppercut podcast which he co-hosts.

“Rob de Castella has come out and said that the AIS is dead and I completely agree with him.

“I’ve seen it go from an athlete performance centre to a money making venture but the place is supposed to be setup for high performance athletes. It was setup because we didn’t get enough medals.”

That was at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics where the Australian team did not win a single Gold Medal and came home with one silver and four bronze. That was the lowest tally since the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics where Australia sent only 33 athletes. In 1976 we sent 184.

Since that time and the introduction of the Australian Institute of Sport, results drastically improved though have again began to drop off in the last few Olympic Games.

“I tell you one story from my experience in there (AIS), towards the end of 2016. I was told I couldn’t have lunch and I was getting ready for an Olympic Qualifier. I was told I couldn’t have lunch because a New Zealand hockey team were coming in and they were having lunch. This is the Australian Institute Sport. I don’t care if they have paid,” Didier vented.

“This is supposed to be churning our best athletes and looking after our best interest!

Australian marathon legend, Robert de Castella slammed the the AIS in an article on the Sydney Morning Herald declaring that it was the end of an era for the sporting institute. While Gymnastics Australia just last month decided to leave the AIS after 35-years.

Peter Conde, the current AIS director disagreed with de Castella’s remarks.

“I appreciate Rob has some sentiments about the way it was in those days, but … the world has changed and what was successful back then is not a recipe for success and that’s been proven in the lead up to the 2008 and 2012 Games where our performance declined.”

Didier took point of this response on his podcast.

“The AIS have come out and have said the AIS isn’t dead and Rob’s idea of what a sports institute is – is wrong. Well not necessary, I’ve trained around the world and whether it is or isn’t dead, isn’t the question. You have to setup these places to churn out athletes. Give us the opportunities. If you are going to set it up at a state athletes, then have state departments better funded than they are.

“If you want better results at the next Olympics, then you have to put it in. Don’t try to justify the AIS. It’s just public servants trying to justify their own existence and it’s a vicious cycle and the victims are the athletes. You wonder why our results have been on the decline in sport. We have completely lost sight on how to churn out athletes.”

Started Martial Arts training after watching Mr Miyagi and Daniel-son in Karate Kid back in 1987. By the time MMA arrived many years later, I was hooked. Coverage of local MMA was via scarce posts on forums like the Underground and Sherdog. I embarked on covering the sport in 2002 and since then have written thousands of articles for both print and online media, before branching out and starting Fight News Australia in 2010. Outside the site, I dream of riding in an F1 car.