Worried about a London Olympic gold medal drought?

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    There has been much said over the last year about Australia’s poor medal prospects at the 2012 London Olympic Games, especially when it comes to gold.

    With many medal hopes not at their best or struggling to perform at all, particularly in the pool and in athletics, hopes are even more subdued than when speculation on the tally began.

    Well, if you’re after a gold rush, you have two options.

    First of all, you can try to locate a time machine for what would be a pretty cool trip. No, not back to Sydney 2000 and its mammoth medal tally, but to Victoria in the 1800s where prospectors struck it rich in the goldfields across the state.

    Aside from that, there is only one real option for a gold rush in 2012, and that is to watch the Paralympic Games, also from London in 2012.

    I must state that I am biased toward the Paralympics, having been to one myself, but can at least back up my claims with medal tally facts.

    Having also heard the Men At Work version of the national anthem more times than I can remember at the swimming in Sydney 2000 also backs up my argument to watch the Paralympics if you have a fetish for gold-medal performances.

    At the Sydney Olympics, Australia won 58 medals in total, 16 of them gold. Compare this to the medal tally of the largely unpaid or at least comparatively under-supported Australian Paralympic team, which won a 149 medals, 63 of them gold.

    At the 2004 Games, Australia won 49 medals, 17 of them gold. That is one more gold than at our home Olympics. Our Paralympic athletes couldn’t match their best ever performance in Sydney, winning with 26 gold out of a total haul of 100 medals.

    The most recent Olympic Games from China in 2008 saw another drop in the overall medal tally for the Australian team, and a three-medal drop in gold for a total of 14. Just a short time later the Paralympic team scored 23 gold out of a total medal count of 79 for the team.

    In 2012 the trend of the Paralympic team winning more gold medals than the Olympic team is surely set to continue, especially with some of our high-profile Olympic athletes struggling through form or injury in the sport that Australia is traditionally strong in, the swimming.

    This is in contrast with the Paralympic team, which is consistently strong in swimming along with various other sports including track and field.

    Far from watching the Paralympic Games just for the gold rush, they also provide a source of inspiration and at times a few tears when you witness some amazing performances, including swimmers with no arms or legs to speak of speeding through the water, and having to use their heads to trigger the touch-pads.

    You have been warned, Australia. You now have a matter of months to find that elusive time machine, or you could just enjoy the inspirational performances of some of this nation’s finest athletes, who strive to perform with little or no recognition.

    I know which option would be the easiest, and it doesn’t involve any device more obscure other than a recliner armchair for your relaxation, and a thing starting with tele that does not end in porter.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • February 14th 2012 @ 10:41am
      Tom Callaghan said | February 14th 2012 @ 10:41am | ! Report

      This seems to be a judicious article. I think that Australia are going to struggle to get ten gold medals in London. I think that Great Britain will get more than twenty. Australia’s Paralympians will do better than its Olympians but in each case their team will finish below Britain’s.
      Recent AOC calculations are based on all of Australia’s 15 world champions gain gold again at the Olympics and Britain’s 15 not succeeding in London and Britain’s many silver world championship medalists not going one better in London.
      Aren’t the members of the AOC wishful thinkers!

    • Roar Pro

      February 14th 2012 @ 2:48pm
      Tom Bridge said | February 14th 2012 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

      I certainly agree with you that Great Britain will win way more medals than any other team, likely in both the Olympics and the Paralympics. Both Great Britain teams have received substantial funding that puts other nations to shame.

      And yes the AOC do seem to be wishful thinkers given how long ago they made their predictions and the injury/confidence worries that some of our Olympic athletes who are strong chances are enduring.

      • February 14th 2012 @ 9:17pm
        Tom Callaghan said | February 14th 2012 @ 9:17pm | ! Report

        Thanks for the reply.I would just say that Great Britain’s significant funding of sport has come after several decades in which Australia did the same.

        • Roar Pro

          February 14th 2012 @ 10:45pm
          Tom Bridge said | February 14th 2012 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

          Is also probably due to the fact they are hosting and want to look good by being on top of the medal tally which as I said before seems likely for both the Olympics and the Paralympics. Not knowing the comparative funding in previous years I cannot comment further.

    • February 14th 2012 @ 2:56pm
      Johnno said | February 14th 2012 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      The Olympics are a waste of taxpayers money. they should be privatised totally or not have them at all. The governments of the world should be spending money on hospitals, roads, education, not winning gold medals if the taxpayer has to pay for it.

    • Roar Pro

      February 14th 2012 @ 10:47pm
      Tom Bridge said | February 14th 2012 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

      The Olympics and indeed Paralympics bring in valuable tourist dollars with visitors often spending their money in other locations within the country either before or after spectating at the Games

    • February 15th 2012 @ 12:21pm
      traread said | February 15th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      we’ll be fine. If you just look at some of the recent results by Aussies at World Championships shows that we should have a good shot at staying in the top 5, which is the AOC’s goal.

      We won 8 golds (out of 19 on offer, next closest nation was GB, Germany & Belarus on 2) at the World Track Championships last year. We should get a few in the pool, Sally Pearson is a great shot in Athletics, we’ve got the best Rowing 8 and coxless 4 in the world, Men’s Hockey is #1 in the world & won the World Cup last year, Cadel Evans has to be a shot in the Time Trial (if he competes) and we won 3 golds in Olympic Categories at the last World Saling Championships… Just to name a few!

      Surely some of these should back up in London… It won’t be our best games, we probably won’t be higher than Britain on the Medal table but it certainly won’t be a bad haul.

      • Roar Pro

        February 15th 2012 @ 3:35pm
        Tom Bridge said | February 15th 2012 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

        May not be a bad haul but I would certainly venture to say that it will likely be behind that of our Paralympians, quite possibly in both the gold and overall medal tally.

    • February 16th 2012 @ 12:31pm
      traread said | February 16th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      I don’t doubt that – our Paralympians always outperform our Olympians. The only years they haven’t had a better Gold medal haul is 1960 and 1972!

      There are more events in the Paralympics also…

      • Roar Pro

        February 17th 2012 @ 10:45am
        Tom Bridge said | February 17th 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        That is a very good point that I didn’t really think of at the time of writing the article. Though I would argue that our Paralympians still have to perform extremely well to obtain those extra gold and other medals.

        Also, for sheer inspirational value, with the work and barriers that Paralympic athletes need to overcome, over and above elite athletes at the Olympic Games and in training before, that adds extra value to the performances of those athletes.

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