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Gold medal funding means more gold medals, right?

US swimmer Nathan Adrian celebrates next to Australia's James Magnussen. AFP PHOTO
Roar Pro
7th August, 2012
10
1684 Reads

Olympic boss John Coates has recently lashed out at the Federal Government for a severe lack of funding for our latest Olympic campaign.

He has argued that the lack in funding is the reason for our lack of gold medals in London.

The latest figures from various reports have stated that the government spent around $106 million at the end of 2011 on our London Olympic campaign, with annual sport funding amounting to approximately $170 million per annum, with the majority of that targeting our Olympians.

Before I get on my moral high horse, we need to seriously consider if this money is money well spent.

With the countless reports of empty hospital beds, rapid cost cuts in education and our ever diminishing transport infrastructure, many of our citizens would see this Olympic funding as selfish and inconsiderate to the wider population.

It is said that approximately $10 million would solve our empty bed hospital crisis in Victoria. This Olympic funding would certainly open up many more hospital beds all across Australia.

Now with all moral debate aside, we have to analyse whether more funding would turn that swag of silver medals, into gold. The title of the ‘Silver Games’, has been bandied about after our recent efforts in London.

While silver as a commodity has been experiencing record high prices, gold is still the commodity of choice, and this too is the case when it comes to Olympic medals.

The Olympics from an economic perspective are all about gold. Much like our metal market, gold is precious and offers the most profitable return.

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Our total medal tally (at the time of writing) of two gold, 12 silver and eight bronze is by no means a bad result. But in this day and age, winning gold is really the make or break issue.

These silver and bronze medals cannot be simply attributed to a lack of funding; as there is no way that reduced spending has produced this crop of chokers and mentally fragile athletes.

If we analyse each and every one of these medals on an individual basis, you would find that no amount of millions would compensate for simply a bad day at the office and a sheer lack of respect.

So if you were to spend another $20 or 30 million on our swimmers, would James Magnussen aka ‘The Missile’ would have won all of his events? Would some extra loose change have helped our relay teams?

If more millions were thrown at trap shooting, would have Michael Diamond won gold and not have buried the seemingly certain golden position that he was in?

To put it bluntly, these athletes were the best in their field, the funding had served them well, prepared them to peak, they were going into the games as the best and no amount of millions would have changed the fact that these athletes simply choked.

We had the best horses in the field; they could not handle the pressure.

The inspirational image of the hard working Australian athlete has been replaced with the image of an arrogant, self-obsessed, egotistical rock star that has tragically put sport second fiddle to their celebrity endorsements and own personal brand.

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Long gone are the less talented athletes, who through sheer hard work got the most out of their bodies. We can say goodbye to the Perkins and Freemans and say hello to the Rices and Magnussens.

While on paper they were not the best in their field, the Olympians of past decades valued hard work and commitment, while the more gifted superstars of today take for granted their ability and seem to think they can coast to gold.

It seems they are on endless pursuit of self-promotion.

Alicia Coutts was on Twitter and Facebook for hours before her big race, deluding her own thought, making her think that she was guaranteed gold.

No amount of extra spending would have stopped her from choosing the stupid path she went down. So our athletes now need social media counselling to keep their egos intact? They need additional funding to be Twitter trained?

Each excuse for failure is becoming more and more laughable.

The facts are there, we had the best athlete in these events, and they got swept away by someone who wanted it more, someone who didn’t take their own talent for granted, someone who had put their passion first.

I put forward the country of Borat, the nation of Kazakhstan, has claimed an impressive six gold medals, with nowhere near as much spending on sport. In fact, the country known for its world leading potassium output, has put us to shame.

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Pre-Olympic funding was around $5 million for the Kazakhstanis, who also boast a smaller population than us.

These six gold medals are a demonstration of sheer hard work, respect and making the most of life, these are the principles that our bigheaded and cocky athletes have disregarded.

Sure some cash bonuses may have inspired these results, but national pride was still well and truly there.

Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Hungary and North Korea all boast more gold medals than us. None of them employ the same amount of funding as we do.

What an embarrassing predicament we are now in.

Now I understand the argument that the Olympics provides inspiration to our younger people. They increase the participation rates in sport, making us healthier, in turn reducing the people in our hospitals.

This is definitely true, but only to a certain degree.

The attitudes of our athletes need to change, not the amount of money they are receiving. Hopefully, a review of our failure will make sure that preparations are adequate, and more humble and respectful attitudes are taken toward our rivals.

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Gold medals are certainly what inspire our youth, and this excruciating burden to win gold is certainly daunting and I have some sympathy for the pressure that our athletes are under.

However deep down they have let Australia down through their intense showboating and pursuit of the next sportswear deal rather than a focus to be the best.

Australia needs to reclaim its mojo, and fast, before our kids become overweight and unhealthy.

We need our athletes to inspire, rather than leave us in ire.

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