It has been a galling Olympics for Australia, which prides itself on being a sporting nation, and as the Games roll on it has become unrealistic for Aussies to expect the medal haul they originally set out to win.
According to the president of Australia’s Olympic Committee, John Coates, the country’s lacklustre performance in this year’s Games is down to cuts in funding and poor sports education in schools.
Aussies were left particularly disappointed after star athletes like the originally-cocky swimmer James Magnussen failed in bring in a haul of gold medals. It’s the country’s lowest glod medal count in swimming since Barcelona 1992 and the first time since 1972 that Aussies have failed to win an individual medal in the sport.
At present, Australia is 24th on the London 2012 Olympics medals table, with one gold medal, 12 silver and seven bronze.
Particularly wounding to the Aussie ego is the fact that tiny New Zealand has outstripped its neighbour and is 14th on the medal table with three Olympic golds.
Now Coates has decided to bite the bullet and lower the official medal target from 46 to between 30 and 36.
“If you analyse it, it is only in swimming that we are disappointed in the number of medals,” Coates the Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
“In Beijing we got 46 medals of which 20 were in swimming. We have 10 here, so realistically we are not going to get 46 medals – 30 to 36 is more likely.”
Coates slammed the Australian government, suggesting its education policy was damaging sport.
“Perhaps the area that needs a lot of attention […] is getting sport back into the school curricula,” he said.
“The British are making a big thing of that being one of the legacies they’re looking towards and they’ve been achieving that, a greater emphasis on sport in schools. We need that because we’ve got to make sure we have a talent pool.”
Former Olympian and senior Olympic committee member Kevan Gosper backed up the calls for more funding to be given to Aussie athletes.
“We’ve been down on the sort of financial support that we were accustomed to when compared with the financial support that’s coming through from other countries, particularly here in Europe,” he told ABC radio from London.
“The fact is you do need more money in international sports and preparing if you’re going to compete with the world.”