The Rio 2016 olympics are over, so who’s to blame for Australia’s poor performance?
After what has been one of the most anticipated olympics games in years, many Aussies are now asking what went wrong and why did our athletes fail to live up to the much-publicised hype?
Leading up to the games, the Australian olympic team were happily declaring the high number of gold medals this team was going to bring home from Rio. Even the media seemed to agree that this was going to be one of our best games ever. Everyone you spoke to on the street believed the AOC’s own propaganda that Australia would achieve a top-five result.
But fast-forward a few weeks and with the lowest result since 1992, it appears the golden horse may well have truly bolted. Is it now time to shut the proverbial barn door before more money is wasted? We believe a top-down thorough examination of Australia’s Olympic program is urgently required: we need to know what went wrong before and during Rio, why we finished with less than half the ‘predicted’ gold medals, and start to ask the tough questions so that we can we learn from this experience in readiness for Tokyo in four years time.
Coming from a business background, our first concern is the apparent lack of results for the enormous amount of money invested. Just throwing more money towards 2020 is not the answer, and now is a very good time to look long and hard at how current funds are being utilised and complete a full financial analysis covering the last four years: we need to know where and how the money was spent, what results are being obtained for those dollars, what accountability is in place for each sport being represented, what has failed, and what needs to change now in time for better results in Tokyo? A better funding model (including consideration of a HECS-type scheme from all athletes who receive government-funded training and later achieve success and financial benefits), needs to be determined before any more money is allocated, and the ten-year plan needs to be reevaluated.
We also need to question the belief that we can, and should compete at world-level standards in so many Olympic sports. We are a small country and achieve much for the size of our population. We love to think we are great at everything, but the facts currently seem to suggest otherwise. Australian taxpayers are entitled to know that the very best possible team is being sent to the olympics even if it means sending a smaller team than was sent to Rio. Do we need to have 400 athletes at Tokyo if we know from their performance just prior to the olympics that perhaps only 200 will be able to compete at world-class standards? We need to be realistic and ensure only the best possible team is sent to Tokyo to represent Australia.
UNNECESSARY pressure on athletes to earn medals
We are hearing that pressure may also have affected some athletes? Was it the normal pressure to compete regularly against other top-level athletes, or was it the pressure from the Australian Sports Commission, the AOC or the media to win a bag of medals and prove themselves worthy? Clearly the build up to these olympics went against all business and sporting models where you ‘under promise and over deliver’. Whatever the cause of the failure, the government would be quite correct is holding all Australian olympic officials accountable for athletes being unable to perform in Rio because of any pressure, no matter its cause. Pressure is a part of any top-level sporting event, but better training and coaching must be in place as part of their training.
identification and training of our athletic team
Do we need to reconsider Australia’s future approach to selecting, training, funding and coaching athletes for olympic selection. Are we identifying the best possible athletes at an early age? Are we seeking out the best athletes from all primary and secondary schools across Australia? Do we have a good Indigenous and gender representation? Are our coaches and heads of olympic sports among the very best in that particular field? Is there a good working relationship between all peak Australian sports bodies with a single focus of finding and training the best olympic athletes? How do we overcome the cultural mindset that we can do well in the first week of the olympic sports and not so well thereafter? Can we be assured of a world-class and full time training facility for all those who are deemed to be the best of the best? Are Australian corporate heads and philanthropic bodies fully engaged in gaining better sponsorship opportunities?
At the end of the day our athletes tried their best and are to be commended for being amongst a select group of top-class athletes in the world. Some achieved personal bests in Rio while others competed following injury, and they should all be recognized for giving a supreme effort.
However as long as those athletes are funded or sponsored by Australian taxpayers and receive a lifestyle and standard of training envied by many, the Australian people are entitled to ask what their olympic funding dollar is achieving, and what can be done to improve our prospects in time for Tokyo in 2020. Tough questions need to be asked of everyone involved in olympic selection, training and funding over the past four years. Answers need to be forthcoming if Tokyo and future olympic games are to bring greater success to our athletes.
Living each adventure,
Christine and Trevor Barre
Promoting a healthy, active, fulfilling lifestyle for all ages. Let us encourage you to Live Each Adventure.
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