GOLDEN SMILE: Emily Seebohm (left) celebrates winning the gold medal with silver medallist Madison Wilson in the women’s 100m backstroke final at the world titles in Russia.
GOLDEN SMILE: Emily Seebohm (left) celebrates winning the gold medal with silver medallist Madison Wilson in the women’s 100m backstroke final at the world titles in Russia. Adam Prettygetty Images

Aussies buoyed by golden talent pool

OLYMPICS: As the London Olympics showed, putting most of your eggs in the same basket can have dire consequences.

After going to those Games with high hopes of another medal haul in the pool, the Aussie swim team returned with just one gold - from the women's 4x100m freestyle relay.

That poor performance meant the entire team left London with just 35 medals - seven gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze - the lowest number since Barcelona in 1992.

Fortunately, results at this week's world swimming championships in Russia have suggested we can expect better at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

After backing up the sole gold medal-winning performance from London in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay to open the world championships, a double in the men's and women's 100m backstroke - to Mitch Larkin and Emily Seebohm - shot Australia to the top of the medal table, with the promise of more gold to come.

But on the 12-month anniversary of the opening ceremony in Rio, chef de mission of the Australian Olympic team, Kitty Chiller, said it was time some other sports "stepped up" and won medals to ease the pressure on our swimmers.

Chiller said the AOC had set a target of finishing in the top five on the medal table in Rio, and that would not be achieved by the swim team alone.

"At the Sydney 2000 Games, Australia won medals across 20 sports," she said. "In London, the results fell away with medals in just 13 sports.

"We need a much better spread of medals in Rio. We need to turn seven gold medals in London into 14 gold in Rio.

"It is an aspirational goal, but achievable."

The good news is, not only have our swimmers been flying the flag, Chiller said athletes across a wide range of sports had turned in world-class performances in recent weeks.

"We have seen very encouraging results in BMX, diving and archery. Jason Day was a winner in Canada and has featured on the leader board at most of the big tournaments this year, and Karrie Webb and Minjee Lee are also achieving the right results on the golf course," she said.

"Our track cyclists are flying, the sailors are on track, Kim Crow is leading a strong rowing squad, Jess Fox continues to dominate in slalom and on flatwater the women have stepped up since London to join the consistent men.

"In athletics Kim Mickle (javelin) and Dani Samuels (discus) lead a strong group of field athletes into the world championships and Jared Tallent will be hard to beat in the walks.

"Sally Pearson will also be back to inspire the track team and defend her title come 2016."

That's not counting the team sports where our hoc-key players, basketballers, sevens rugby players, women's footballers and water polo teams will all go to Rio with hopes of finishing on the podium.

 

RIO FACT FILE

Opening ceremony is on Friday, August 5, 2016

The Games will finish on Sunday, August 21

306 medal events will be contested across 28 sports

10,500 athletes from 206 countries are expected to take part

Australia expects to send between 460-470 athletes

The new sports since London are golf and rugby sevens



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