Aussie sports hit the hurdles

THE AUSSIES are having a tough time in sport lately. The Rio Olympics have just finished with Australia crashing to 10th in the medal table while traditional rivals Great Britain enjoyed a record medal haul to finish 2nd in the table.

The same weekend, the Wallabies were thrashed 42-8 on home soil by world rugby champions New Zealand, just months after a series whitewash loss to England also on home soil. And the cricketers have slipped from 1st to 3rd in the cricket world test rankings, after a series defeat in Sri Lanka.

One of my Aussie mates took me to task recently in response to the post ‘By jingo, it’s gold, gold, gold’ where I pointed out that the Brits were outpacing the Aussies at the Olympics. It would be fairer, he said, to look at the percentage of medals on a population basis.

So I’ve done just that now that the Rio games are over. With a population of 65m, the Brits have returned a ratio of 0.4 gold medals per million people and just over one Olympic medal per million people. The Aussies are inferior in the gold (0.3 gpm) but slightly better in the overall medal tally at 1.2 mpm.

Outstripping them both is New Zealand with a Rio tally of four gold medals and 18 medals overall from a population of 4.7m. You do the math.

The fact is, my dear Aussie mate, the Aussies are going backward – 4th in Athens in 2004, 6th in Beijing, 8th in London and now 10th in Rio. The Brits, on the other hand, are celebrating 67 medals at Rio making them the first host nation to exceed its tally at the following games and the first to improve its medal count at five successive games.

Australia had a team of 421 athletes competing in 26 sports at Rio. Britain sent 366 athletes and 129 of them returned home with at least one medal – that’s a podium place strike rate of 76% across the 25 sports in which Britain was competing.

I’m looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics. And the Ashes cricket. And the rugby… and…

Len Horne

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