British give golden nod to Aussie coaches
Great Britain acknowledged Wednesday their greatest gold medal haul in a century was partly thanks to Australian coaches.
While Britain started the day third in the London 2012 medals table with 22 golds, Australia were 12th with just four, a long way off their target of a top five finish.
But rather than rub Australia’s noses in it, British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Colin Moynihan insisted their sporting rivals had not lost the world’s respect.
Concerns have been raised in Australia about their top coaches going abroad, and asked whether they had had an influence on Britain’s success, Moynihan said: “It’s helped.
“They have provided through their institute some remarkable coaches which we’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from across a number of sports.”
Australian coaches have played an important role in Britain’s cycling and rowing teams, which have won eight and five golds respectively.
Moynihan went on: “Australia have had their challenges over the past 12 days. But the respect though from the world of sport for Australia still stands exceptionally high.
“They hosted the great Games of Sydney and subsequently have taught the rest of the world a great deal.
“Nobody can sit back and not have the maximum respect for Australia.
“Many of us would like them to have turned more of those silvers into gold for them, for that team — when they’re not competeing against Team GB that is.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for Australia.”
Moynihan also paid tribute to Australian track cyclist Anna Meares, who beat Britain’s Victoria Pendleton to the women’s sprint gold in a showdown between two of the sport’s greats in a buzzing Velodrome.
It was the final race of Pendleton’s career and she went over to embrace her greatest rival after the contest.
“As for Anna, she knew she was up against absolutely everything,” Moynihan said.
“The crowd was electric. For Anna to go out and deliver wins the respect of everyone in the world of sport.
“Anybody who knows about sport knows what a great athlete she is. She was amazing. She wasn’t going to lose and you could see that, she was absolutely determined.”
Australia’s sports minister Kate Lundy promised to wear a Team GB shirt and row the Olympic course after losing a bet with her British counterpart as to which country would win more medals.© AFP 2013