Growing up, Ashleigh Werner had a dream of representing Australia in the Olympic Games, but you might say that over the years she has had some trouble picking just one sport to compete in.
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.