One million francs to optimize the performance of Vaud athletes

What does an additional 10,000 francs per year represent in the life of a top athlete? “Perhaps three additional stays in Toulouse, to work with coach Dominique Hernandez”, answers Loïc Gasch, vice-world champion in the high jump room. “More frequent courses on glaciers and the possibility of paying my coaches”, adds Caroline Ulrich, 20, a young talent in ski mountaineering. “It is, in all areas, thinking about the best solution to serve its performance, rather than the least expensive,” summarizes Lea Sprunger, a young retiree from athletics.

Ten thousand francs a year is also the amount that the best Vaudois athletes will now be able to receive from the Vaud Générations Champions association. “The elite athletes and sportsmen of our canton are sorely lacking in support”, insists its president Sergei Aschwanden. The former judoka is, with Viriginie Faivre (freestyle skiing) and Anne-Sophie Thilo (sailing), at the origin of a project which has already made it possible to raise 1 million francs from public and private partners.

Read also: Loïc Gasch and the hunt for old records

No less than 57 athletes will benefit according to the current eligibility criteria. You have to practice individual discipline and hold a “gold” or “silver” card within the framework of the Swiss Olympic support system. The “bronze” card allows you to obtain 5,000 francs a year, like participation in the Youth Olympic Games.

The precariousness of elite athletes

This money must be used to “optimize performance”, in the words of Lea Sprunger, vice-president of the structure. To ensure this, Vaud Générations Champions will not make “blind” payments, but will reimburse actual costs for treatment, camps, etc. An accountant by training, Loïc Gasch has understood that his scholarship will not help him pay his rent. “But to the question ‘I would need it to succeed but can I afford it?’ I will be able to answer yes more often”, he rejoices.

According to a study carried out by the Federal University of Sport in Macolin in 2021, 41% of elite sportsmen and women in Switzerland earn less than 14,000 francs per year within the framework of their discipline. In this context, benefiting from an additional fixed amount to amortize costs is not a refusal. “Especially since the system is really based on our performance, not on our popularity or that of our specialty,” applauds Caroline Ulrich.

Beyond financial support, the Vaud Générations Champions association also intends to contribute to the development of athletes, to involve them in schools and to network them, so that the experiences of some can benefit others.

“We are falling behind”

For the time being, professional athletes in collective disciplines are not affected. But Sergei Aschwanden does not exclude anything for the future. Wearing his deputy hat, the former judoka is working in parallel for an initiative proposing to allocate 1% of the Vaud cantonal budget to sport, i.e. around 100 million francs, ten times more than today, “which could change a lot of things at all levels”, he tells us.

Read also: For Vaud sport, 100 million is not enough to mobilize

Problem: ten days ago, Time echoed the difficulty of collecting the 12,000 signatures necessary for the text to be put to popular vote. “We’re not there yet, but today I can say that we’re catching up, says Sergei Aschwanden. The signatures are currently coming in very quickly, the sports associations have worked well on the ground. It will be hot, but we hope to have the account on July 18. So, the summer of 2022 will have been very prolific for Vaudois sport.

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