Three-time Olympic Games gold medallist Jodie Henry has backed the new direction of the AIS as the campus moves away from its "insular" environment on the road to Tokyo.
Henry concedes she struggled to thrive in the "fishbowl" environment when the focus was solely on sport and factored in little room for perspective in life, when she thought throwing up before competing made her "weird".
The former swimming star shifted to the AIS following her success at the Athens Olympics and won a world championship while based in Canberra – but that triumph was "a pure fluke".
It comes as the future of the AIS and any redevelopment plans are set to become part of the battle to win support in the federal election as the last stage of a business proposal to reinvent the site nears completion.
"I didnt have an overly positive experience here just because I felt like I was a fish in a fishbowl, like I was being monitored all the time," Henry said.
"There wasnt a lot of perspective in life, it was all about sport. Its something that opens that up and allows the athlete to be in their normal, everyday life, and choose where they train. They have perspective and balance thats going to make for a better athlete.
"I was a little bit of a different story because I came here after my success. I came here after Athens, which was the biggest event in my career.
"I struggled with motivation after that, so being thrown into this environment where I really wasnt comfortable, it really didnt help at all.
"I won the world championship the next year, and that was more just based on pure fluke. I just happened to continue alright form into the world championship in 2005.
"There is definitely great facilities here that allow you to get the best out of yourself and the technology here. They can still use this facility, they can still come here on camps and use all the technology theyve got, but its not so central and its not so insular."
Federal Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie was reluctant to comment about plans to overhaul or downsize the 64-hectare AIS with uncertainty dragging on for more than two years.
The ACT government has been waiting for its federal counterpart to make a decision about the campus, which is set to include selling Canberra Stadium and the AIS Arena.
The AIS has been decentralising departments and spreading them around the country while the institute increases its focus on athlete wellbeing, having launched a nation-wide mental health support service for AIS-funded athletes, and cutting edge sports technology.
The move away from being a centralised hub has been met with criticism from some corners with former Read More – Source