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April 3rd, 2007

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10:54 am - Sport ...
Is Australia losing its sporting edge ? I'm starting to wonder, seeing some recent results. In the recent World Track Cycling Championships, where Australia often dominates (usually setting a world record or two), we only managed two gold medals - Britain did the best, winning 7. At the world swimming championships, the USA and Russia finished well ahead of Australia - compared to 2006, where Australia was on top. In other sports (e.g. rugby of various types, basketball, etc), we seem to have fallen behind too. And finally, in fencing, the Aussies have been dropping down the rankings, and did worse at the last Commonwealth fencing championships than previously.

British fencers have been doing quite a bit better - a number of last 32 and L64 results, quite a few fencers in the world top 100 (across weapons, and in both senior and junior rankings) and just over a week ago, Jon Willis won Heidenheimer Pokal, one of the hardest World Cup events (probably only behind the World Championships and Olympics). The first British World Cup fencing win since 1981, apparently, which happens to be the year Willis was born. Not only did he win, but he won the semi-final after being down 12-14, and won the final 15-11 from being 6-11 (!). I've seen him fence at some British Opens, and the only fencer I can compare him to in style is Seamus Robinson, from Australia - but Willis trains full-time and is taking his fencing very seriously these days, and the results are starting to come through.

[1] Yes, there's always the cricket, and we're doing ok at the World Cup - but it seems more like the rest of the world just doesn't care that much about cricket and is falling away, rather than Australia powering ahead.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(3 touches | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:April 3rd, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
I seem top recall a piece on tv about one of the British cycling sprint teams, they'd been studying the Australian training methods and working to implement their own version here, building a centre of excellence and funding full time training to do it.

Which I suspect pretty much sums up what has happened over all. In the big (or at least 'target' sports) Aus was for a while able to perform well above expectations by working both smarter and harder. We put a lot of effort into research and coming up with new and improved ways to get the best out of athletes. Now everyone has had a chance to look at them, see they work, and implement their own versions, so the size of your population and the amount of money you have to spend will become major factors again.

Plus I get the impression that having been good for a while, a lot of Aussies have forgotten the working harder aspect of being the best :)
[User Picture]
Date:April 3rd, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC)
Could also be that we have the media cult of tall poppy and if you don't succeed you get cut down. That and a certain reluctance to fund minority sports....
[User Picture]
Date:April 3rd, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC)
It's probably because of the Aussies comming over here to fence instead ;)

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