Everybody has an opinion of how to measure success and failure of the Australian olympians. Let me put this out there to begin with. I have full respect for anyone who is talented enough to make the Olympic team but there is also a measure of success that we also have to expect.
It is easy to start with the Australian Swimming Team. In this Olympiad we have not won a gold medal in an individual event, which is the first time since the Montreal Games of 1976. Since that time we have been blessed with some of the most talented swimmers the world has seen. These include Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Susie O’Neill, Hayley Lewis, Neil Brooks, Jon Sieben, Duncan Armstrong, Petria Thomas, Keiran Perkins, Libby Trickett and Daniel Kowalski. These swimmers have won a myriad of medals over the years and the one thing they always showed was humility and grace both in victory and defeat.
The current generation of swimmers are the highest funded athletes of the Australian Olympic Team and expectation will always be high based on the past successes of the above mentioned. With the exception of a few, namely Alicia Coutts, Eamon Sullivan, Melanie Schlanger and Libby Trickett, they will talk themselves up, show a willingness to except the sponsorship dollars on offer and be kings and queens of social media. The question is, do they really do the hard yards that the Chinese & US swimmers do?
Our swimming coach has coach said that the pressure got to them. Well I for one don’t actually accept that. They are representing only 21 million people. Within the team that may be considered pressure however when you look at the US swimmers they are representing over 250 million people and the Chinese swimmers over 1.3 billion people!
It is obvious to me that the effort those other countries put in is much more superior than ours. It hurts to say that as an Australian.
One fact that has been ignored or only mentioned on the odd occasion is that the Swimming Coaches Intellect we had has now gone to other countries. China have a lot of their swimmers training here in Australian under the tutelage of Dennis Cotterall who was the man behind Grant Hackett and all his success. Why did Swimming Australia not offer him significant money to stay with the Australian Swimming Team?
There are many young swimmers in our squad who did put in 100% effort, swam personal bests but at this stage are not quite world class. I hope by 2016 those swimmers are still in the sport and ready to push ahead to meet the expectations of the adoring Australian public.
To be an Olympic gold medallist you have to do everything possible to achieve it. They do not give away gold medals. So if you are male, shave down before the big race and don’t make ridiculous public statements about your ability before you actually achieve something memorable. World records are temporary but Olympic Gold Medals are respected forever.
At this point I would congratulate the swimmers for getting to the Olympics but they must realise they have to increase their work effort to fully succeed.
Silver and Bronze medals are a great achievement but something tells me, with just a bit more grace and humility and extra work effort, there may have been a few more gold medals than just the Women’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay.
I would also like to congratulate the effort of Michael Phelps in the US Swim Team who has now won more gold medals and medals in general than any other athlete in Olympic Game history. Talk about expectation and pressure. Well done Michael and good luck in your future.
Why don’t Swimming Australia offer his coach some big money to come to Australia and coach our team. Who knows what we could achieve. Nothing is impossible!
By Tony Sinclair