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Coates hands House of Lords London report card

12 September 2013

AOC: Recently elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President and Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President, John Coates has appeared as a witness before the House of Lords Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee.

The British Committee was appointed in May 2013 to consider the strategic issues for regeneration and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Coates, Australia’s own Lord of Sport, appeared in the upper house of Parliament in London via video link at the conclusion of the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

Coates proved an enlightening witness given his efforts in navigating an Australian Olympic Team through a home Olympics, and maximising the effects of the afterglow.

Coates was very complimentary of Team GB’s performance at the London Olympic Games where it won an impressive 65 medals including 29 gold to finish third on the medal tally behind the USA and China.

He attributed much of Team GB’s success to the seamless execution of high performance strategies between national federations, the British Olympic Association, and key sporting bodies.

“We’re modelling ourselves on that at the moment,” Coates admitted.

“It is very, very important in that final period, particularly in the Games when all of the different sports come under the responsibility of the national Olympic committee, that you’re focused on high performance just as the British Olympic Association was.

“You had a lot of sports science and medicine facilities available to your team that we didn’t- but we’ll have in future in the (athletes’) village!” he said of Team GB.

In an indication of the Australian Olympic Committee’s own direction and preparation for Rio 2016, Coates outlined the strengths of Great Britain’s 2012 campaign, pinpointing Team GB’s High Performance Director Clive Woodward as one of its key players.

“In our own London de-briefings, our high performance directors in each of the sports said ‘well, look: we didn’t have a “go to person” in the national Olympic Team on high performance matters. You administered the thing very well, but we’d like to have someone who we can go to at that level,”’ Coates reported.

“We had a big dependence on our Australian Institute of Sport, our sports do, but they were operating 47 months of the four year cycle, and then they were on the outside of the village not fully integrated into our team for that last critical part.”

Despite confessing Australia will take some lessons from Team GB’s playbook, Coates was hesitant to admit Team GB could achieve its ambitious Rio 2016 goal of matching its superb medal tally from London.

“I think it’s quite possible you can stay in the top four. Whether you can do the top three nations is another matter,” Coates said.

“Competing at home there’s a tremendous advantage. I think it’s going to be very hard for you to get the same number of medals. Still, I’m sure you’ll be in the top five.

“They (Rio 2016) will be much more difficult Games for you and Australia- we’re not used to competing in Brazil, and the Americans will do much better in that time zone.”

Before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games come the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Read Coates’ assessment of Australia’s winter prospects here >>

Taya Conomos
Olympics.com.au | @AUSOlympicTeam

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