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Two years until Australia marches at the Rio Olympic Games

5 August 2014

RIO 2016: The 5th of August 2014 is an exciting day as it marks two years until the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This milestone makes the prospect of the first Olympic Games in South America all the more real for athletes and coaches who are training hard. Behind the scenes the national federations, sporting institutes and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) staff are working to ensure the 2016 Australian Olympic Team is the best prepared to take on the world from August 5-21 2016.  

Australian sailors are currently competing in the first official test event for Rio 2016 to maximise their time in the conditions that they are likely to face in two years time. The performance of Australian sailors at London 2012 was a real highlight of the Games.

The 2016 Australian Olympic Team will be led by Kitty Chiller as Chef de Mission. The Sydney Olympian in Modern Pentathlon was a Deputy in 2012 and she is establishing the framework to ensure Australian athletes can fulfil their potential and represent Australia with great honour, on and off the field of play in 2016.

“Athletes in Rio will not only be members of the 2016 Olympic Team, they will be the latest additions to a by then 120 year old Team, that started with Edwin Flack in Athens in 1896. I want all our athletes to understand and respect the great Olympic tradition that Australia has and to recognise that with that tradition comes responsibility. Our Team needs to excel on and off the field of play.”

“As well as aiming to regain our position in the Top 5 on the Medal tally in 2016, we are also working hard to ensure Rio is a Life-Best Experience for athletes and officials – win, lose or draw. A united team approach will provide the best environment for success.”

Chiller knows that a positive Team environment with athletes from all sports supporting each other will lead to athletes performing at their best and give Australia the best opportunity to improve on the 35 medals (7 gold, 16 silver, 12 bronze) from London 2012 where the Team was tenth on gold medals.

Australia placed in the top five on the medal tally in Sydney 2000 (4th), Athens 2004 and just missed out in Beijing (6th).

Chiller and the Australian Olympic Committee know getting back to the top five will be tough but they are not shying away from the challenge and there are plenty of positive signs across a whole range of sports where ground has been made up since London 2012.

”All our athletes going to Rio will want to do their best. That is what the Olympics are about. If we all focus on doing our best in everything we do, in planning, preparation and performance, the results will look after themselves”.

The planning visits and collaboration with the national federations and Australian Institute of Sport is aimed to turn the conditions and the challenges that are expected from the Rio Games into an advantage for the Australian Olympic Team.

“Less than 10% of our Team has ever competed in Brazil. But our athletes are used to travelling long distances to foreign environments. We are more experienced at this than many of our European rivals and we need to use that to our advantage”.

There were plenty of positive performances to come out of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow recently and over the next few months there will be many world championships and benchmark events held that will start painting the picture of how Australian athletes are tracking at the mid-way mark of the Olympic four-year cycle. 

The qualification period has already started for 10 disciplines and there are another five commencing next month. At this early stage it is estimated that Australia will have around 470 athletes at Rio 2016, which is significantly greater than the 410 athletes from London two years ago.

The forecasted increase in numbers is due to the addition of two new sports in Rugby Sevens and Golf, plus the expectation that Australia will qualify in both men’s and women’s Football in 2016.

A team of around 470 would be close to the largest Team to leave Australian shores which was the Athens 2004 Team with 486 competitors. Beijing 2008 had 436 athletes with Sydney 2000 by far the largest Australian Olympic Team with 632 competitors.

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