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Super result for Australia's Olympic athletes

28 October 2005

Australia’s Olympic athletes have achieved sensational results throughout 2005 virtually matching the medals won at last year’s Athens Olympics.

The latest benchmark study completed by the AOC shows Australia would win 48 medals and be in third spot on the overall medal tally if an Olympic Games was held today.

Results from world championships, world cups and other benchmark events indicate a haul of 20 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze medals for Australia putting us amongst sport’s superpowers.

“This is a sensational result and all credit is due to our athletes, world class coaches, and the excellent programs provided by our national sporting federations and institutes and academies” said AOC President John Coates.

History shows that medal performances decline post an Olympic Games.

But the drop has not occurred after Athens where the Australian Team won 49 medals including a record 17 gold to finish 4th on the overall medal tally for the second Olympics in a row.

“The fact that we are now lying third with 48 medals in a post-Olympic year speaks volumes for the current crop of athletes and the hard work being done by our member sports” Coates said. ‘We are not on the wane by any means”.

Australia won 58 medals at the home Olympics in Sydney but by 2001 the benchmark indicator showed a fall to 40 medals.

The latest benchmark study shows the USA on top of the medal tally with 82, Russia second with 59, followed by Australia on 48 and China and Germany equal fourth with 45.

Australia’s numbers could be boosted further with benchmark events still to be held in hockey, tennis, weightlifting, mountain bike, boxing and artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.

Coates did offer a word of caution. He shares the view of IOC President Jacques Rogge that the Chinese will dominate at their home games and may well top the medal tally.

“Traditionally the Chinese don’t send their best athletes to world championship events so the latest results could be a bit flattering for us”.

China’s national games are currently underway in Nanjing. For Chinese athletes these games take priority over world championships and other major competitions because of the financial rewards on offer at home. The current games, the largest ever in the history of the event, featured 9,922 athletes in 32 sports including all 28 summer Olympic sports. All of China’s 2004 Olympic champions, except those who have retired, participated.

“We will need to take a close look at the results of these games to gauge the impact the successful Chinese athletes would have had on the Benchmark study had they competed” Coates said.

He said the Australian Olympic Team benefited greatly in the lead up to the Sydney Games from the funding kicker provided by the Federal Government.

“The Federal Government’s funding boost to sport over a six-year period leading into Sydney was a major factor in Australia’s success”

He expects the Great Britain Team is likely to get more funding from their Government leading into Beijing boosting their chances of winning more medals.

On the current Benchmark table Britain is lying in 10th place with 23 medals

Coates also pointed to the “Talbot factor”. The British are talking to Australia’s former head coach of swimming Don Talbot about working with their team for Beijing.

“Getting Don Talbot is a clever move and can only improve their performances in the pool” Coates said. “It could have some impact on the swimming results for us and the USA”.

Coates is also very excited by the abundance of young talent that has emerged.

27 first-time Olympians who competed in the AOC’s Youth Festivals in 2001, and 2003 won a total of 8 medals in Athens including 3 gold.
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“We saw more encouraging signs at the last Youth Festival in January this year and we are planning another Festival in January 2007”Coates said. “The young athletes taking part in the Festivals have highlighted the depth of talent we have across a wide range of sports. There is no doubt many of these kids will be in the team for Beijing in 2008”.

The Australian Olympic Committee has again set its sights on a top four finish on the overall medal tally in 2008.

AOC

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