When it comes to sport, we Aussies can be a tad smug. We know we’re good.
For a small nation we punch above our weight (pun definitely intended) and we know it. We swim faster than the rest, we jump higher, we hit harder, we run further and goddammit we beat the Poms.
Our Olympics story is usually one of excitement and achievement as those wearing the green and gold bring home medals in shades that match their uniforms. But not this year.
The narrative of Australia’s performance at this year’s Olympics is totally different to that of years gone past. It is one of negativity and one of blame.
Whether it’s the media, the team culture, the Government, or the athletes themselves – we are all searching for someone we can label as responsible for the reason we’re sitting behind New Zealand on that medal tally.
Here are some of the potential culprits:
AUSTRALIA’S TEAM CULTURE
Former Australian Olympic swimmer, Geoff Huegill:
” ‘I’m already at the pub’ … what kind of message is that when teammates were still to swim for medals on the last day.” news.com.au
“The team spirit wasn’t what it should have been. I believe there’s too much looking after the individual performance in the mentality of some young swimmers and coaches rather than the one-team approach.” news.com.au
“In my day, knowing you had a close team behind you when you stood on the blocks made a huge difference. I hope all the rookies in London got as much as I once did from that. It upsets me.” – news.com.au
THE ATHLETE’S WORK ETHIC
Former Australian swimming champion, Susie O’Neill:
“It’s really difficult in my situation to feel like I’m bagging the current athletes, and it’s easy to do that as a past athlete, but what I’ve been hearing a little bit from different people is work ethic from Australian swimmers is maybe not the same as it used to be 10 years ago,” she said. – Sydney Morning Herald
Former Olympic Swimming Coach Don Talbot defending team’s work ethic & blaming coaches’ preference to train international athletes:
“A lot of [Chinese athletes] are in Australia working with our coaches and … they pay more money,” Talbot said. “If someone starts throwing money at them, they’re going to start paying attention to those people.” – Sydney Morning Herald
President of Australian Olympic Commitee John Coates:
”What do you do when you have a poor season? You look at your program and you look at your coaches … I think there’s enough money in the system. They’re just not necessarily spending it wisely”. - Sydney Morning Herald
Eddie McGuire, Channel 9 presenter:“Time will tell how many athletes and officials will say those words with their fingers crossed, and whether in four years’ time in Rio there will be a further addition of “and promise not to make a complete fool of myself, my country and all those who have sacrificed to give me a chance at Olympic glory by being an idiot on Twitter and turning the Olympic Games into a personal reality TV show”. – Herald Sun
“I don’t know, I just felt like I didn’t really get off [social media] and get into my own mind. I obviously need to sign out of Twitter and log out of Facebook a lot sooner than I did.” – Brisbane Times
Australian shooter Russell Mark: ‘There are a lot of athletes that use some kind of sleeping aide and they use it responsibly. Not everyone gets addicted to sleeping tablets and I’m an example of it. I’ve competed on them for 20 years and I will until the end of my career because I find they help me. I’m a very poor sleeper.
”I just think that we’ve got to be very careful of tarnishing the whole team and forcing this underground … I think a little bit more debate was needed before a decision was made.” – Sydney Morning Herald