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AOC aims for top-five finish in Rio

5 August 2014

RIO 2016: Leading Australian Olympic officials say a top-five finish in the 2016 Rio medalcount is difficult but achievable, with probably double the gold medals won in London needed to make it happen.

Australia's Olympic performances have steadily declined since winning a Games-best 58 medals in 2000in Sydney, when they finished fourth on the table.

While the gold-medal haul increased by one to a national record 17 in Athens four years later, the overalltally has dropped from 50 (fourth on medal table) in Greece, to 46 in Beijing in 2008 (sixth) and 35 inLondon (10th) in 2012.

"We'll need around 13 or 14 gold medals to get into that top five, so that's double the amount of goldmedals that we won in London," 2016 Australian Olympic Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller told AAP.

"We'll probably need in the mid-40s to finish in the overall tally in the top five.

"What's important is to convert those fifths, sixths, seventh and eighth places.

"Australia got a lot of fifth to eighth places in London. It's making sure we're doing everything to convertthe silvers and bronzes to golds and the fifth to eighths onto the podium and that will make the difference."

AOC president John Coates didn't shirk from setting a tough benchmark, although he admitted it wouldn't be easy to attain.

"(Top five) is very, very difficult. We're being significantly out-funded by the British, French and Germanand now the Japanese," Coates told AAP.

"If you are prepared to accept something less, then something less will happen.

"You might not always achieve what you aspire to, but I'd rather have a target that's up there than givingup before we start."

He said Australia needed to do better in multi-medal sports like judo.Chiller didn't read too much into Australia's performance at the Commonwealth Games, where they wereknocked off the top of the medal table for the first time since 1986."It's very hard to really see what that means on a world stage," Chiller said.

"Swimming for instance, we dominated the pool and there was some great times including a worldrecord, but the real test for the swimmers is going to be next week on the Gold Coast when they are upagainst the US in Pan Pacs."

She was disappointed by the diving and triathlon medal tallies in Glasgow, while Coates nominated gymnastics and weightlifting as other sports that didn't perform as well as hoped in Scotland.

Chiller said Australia would get a better idea of where it stood after the next couple of months, with world championships or major international events scheduled in several sports including sailing, triathlon, swimming, rowing and basketball.

"We've been looking at benchmark events for the last year and, at the moment, we're sitting seventh in the benchmark events," Chiller said.

"I think (top five) is realistic. I wouldn't set a goal and put the expectations on our athletes in our team if Ididn't think it was a realistic goal."

Allowing for all sporting teams qualifying, Chiller anticipated Australia would take a team of around 470 to Brazil, just shy of the biggest team for an overseas Olympics.

Six more Rio team leaders were announced on Tuesday, with the appointments including major winner Ian Baker-Finch (golf) and former Wallabies five-eighth Scott Bowen (women's rugby sevens team).

HOW AUSTRALIA'S OLYMPIC FORTUNES HAVE DECLINED SINCE 2000:

* Year: 2000
* Host city: Sydney
* Total medals won: 58
* Gold medals won 16
* Position on medal table: Fourth.
* Year: 2004

* Host city: Athens
* Total medals won: 50
* Gold medals won: 17
* Position on medal table: Fourth

* Year: 2008
* Host city: Beijing
* Total medals won: 46
* Gold medals won: 14
* Position on medal table: Sixth

* Year: 2012
* Host city: London
* Medals won: 35
* Gold medals won: 7
* Position on medal table: Tenth

AAP