Medal decline a worrying trend: Coates9 November 2011
AOC President John Coates says a sharp drop in the number of sports winning medals is a worrying trend.
The current benchmark study shows Australia has won 30 medals this year in only seven disciplines. We are ranked eighth on the medal tally.
“It is a worrying trend we are medalling in less disciplines,” Coates told delegates at the opening of the 2011 National Elite Sports Council (NESC) Forum in Canberra.
He believes we will improve in the coming months with sailing, showjumping and men’s hockey events to be held soon.
He has high hopes for Lauren Mitchell in gymnastics, women’s and men’s basketball and women’s water polo in London next year.
Australia’s aim is to finish in the top five nations on the overall medal tally at the London Games.
Australia finished fourth in Sydney 2000 with 58 medals, fourth in Athens 2004 with 49 medals and fifth overall in Beijing 2008 with 46 medals.
Coates admitted he had painted a gloomy picture today.
“There is a ray of hope for London,” he said. “We had 37 fourth and fifth places this year and we need to convert them into medals.”
Australia won medals in 19 disciplines at the Sydney 2000 Olympics compared to seven disciplines now.
Coates acknowledged that the sports received a significant increase in funding from the Federal Government last year but has realised “it was not enough”.
He called on the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) to seek more funding from the Government.
“I would hope the ASC will take the fight up to the Government for more funding and not leave it to the AOC to put its head up again.”
The AOC does not rely on government funding but campaigned on behalf of its member sports for more government funding post the Crawford Report in 2009 and 2010.
Coates said the lack of funding had impacted on sports institutes and academies across the country. Scholarships for young athletes had fallen from 5000 to 3000. Some sports had been dropped from their programs.
“Institutes have been forced to cull some sports because of a lack of funding,” Coates said.
He suggested the ASC find more funds for shooting and boxing.
“The sport that has been dudded funding wise is shooting. We are not giving enough money to our shooters and I would encourage the ASC to find more money for them.”
Boxing was dropped from the AIS program even though women’s boxing has been included on the program for the first time in London and Coates believes the women as well as Damien Hooper will perform well there.
“We pulled the plug too early on boxing and the ASC should look at providing the best support for these athletes.”
He strongly defended the emphasis placed on winning medals at the Olympics.
“Australia should aspire to excellence in sport,” he said. “If we didn’t aspire to excellence the government would not have set up the CSIRO. The Australian people take great pride in our performances and our athletes are great role models.”
He said that history shows that extra funding results in outstanding results.
“The bottom line is the resources you throw at your sports,” Coates said. “This result is a wakeup call for government and sport.”