Never mind the Medal Tally, here comes the future
The games have been run and won, the flame is out and the partying/post mortem has begun. With that in mind, how do we rate London 2012 from the Australian perspective?
Let’s start with basic facts; Australia finished 10th on the medal table with seven, gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze for a total of 35 medals.
That equates to a drop of four places on the medal table with 11 medals fewer returning to this Great Southern Land than in 2008.
A lot has been discussed in the media and on corner streets about whether this drop is a failure/disappointment.
This line of discussion became a hot topic to the point where Mitchell Watt angrily defended the effort of the Australian competitors.
I could not agree more with Mitchell Watt.
Australia’s athletes did not fail at these Olympics.
Yes we won fewer medals than in previous games but we live in a competitive world where the battle for the Olympic medal has never been hotter.
A little bit a fate and luck didn’t go our way either with a few close results that with luck on our side, could have been Aussie successes.
Combine those with the young team we sent to the Olympics and what London 2012 will be remembered for is the unleashing of the next generation of Olympic stars.
The last remnants of the ‘Sydney Effect’ were seen in London. However, the guard without mention or notice, changed midway through the games.
Heroes such as Leisel Jones, Steph Rice, Ken Wallace, Drew Ginn, Stuart O’Grady and Andrew Hoy gave way to a new generation of stars.
Jessica Fox, James Magnussen, Edwina Tops-Alexander and Brittany Broden didn’t win medals in their first real crack at an Olympics but they gave hope for the future.
Certain people will now come out and demand changes to Olympic funding and ridicule our Olympic movement.
This is not useful. The future is looking bright because our younger athletes learned from this experience.
In four years time, James Magnussen will remember the lessons learned from his London campaign about how to behave in the lead up.
In four years time, Jess Fox will remember how close she came to winning gold in her debut Olympics and this will give her confidence when she lines up in Rio.
In four years time, Steve Solomon will remember and repay the faith shown to him by Athletics Australia by training hard for Rio and winning a medal.
Remember the words of Olympic supremo Baron Pierre de Couteban “It’s not about winning medals, it’s about taking part”.
While medals are nice and there will be plenty flowing from the talent mentioned, being at the Olympics is the achievement.
Ask Lisa Weightman after her PB in an Olympic marathon or Steve Solomon who made an Olympic final at his first crack how they feel?
My guess is they are elated with their efforts after four long years of work.
It is a herculean effort to go to an Olympics with the weight of a nation on your shoulders and our athletes did that job immaculately.
While the medal count may have been lower than usual, our younger athletes showed that there is a bright future heading to Rio in 2016.
When the Olympic History is updated, Australia will remember these games as the learning and transition games.
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