Despite it all, Australia stands tall at London 2012
THE HARD WORD | What have the performances, the reaction and the euphoria revealed about our fiercest rivals, and what has Australia’s stinging response to our campaign shown about these two, great nations? Plenty.
MY COLLEAGUES will take great pride in the fact that this rubbish is being repeated, let alone printed in the UK’s pre-eminent newspaper for Australians living abroad, but these are just some of the barbs I’ve suffered over the past fortnight.
One chirped “Kazakhstan, Cuba, Italy, Hungary, North Korea. Just some of the 18 countries performing better than Lostralia!” Another decried “spoke to Cash4Gold, they said they don’t buy in such small quantities, sorry mate,’ as another chimed in: “he’s struggling with ‘Olympic finger,’ caused be repeated scrolling down to see Aussie’s medal tally.”
As an Australian working in London over the past two weeks, the insults have flown thick and fast since day one. It’s been as relentless and unforgiving as Great Britain’s rapid climb up the medal tally.
As it stands a public investment (excluding private donations) of £312m, (A$463m) by UK Sport returned 65 medals in total for Great Britain, a staggering 29 of them gold. A remarkable achievement, third only to the global heavyweights USA and China. But there is real concern much of this purse won’t be returned over the next Olympic four-year cycle ahead of Rio in 2016. That appears almost a foregone conclusion, as has occurred in Australia since we also hosted the Games in Sydney 2000.
But what have the performances, the reaction and the euphoria revealed about our fiercest rivals, and what has Australia’s stinging response to our campaign shown about these two, great nations.
There was a couple of days wait before Great Britain claimed their first gold, after a number of gold medal prospects, namely Mark Cavendish in the men’s individual time trial, failed to deliver. But they haven’t looked back since.
The Brits are a cynical bunch, not so much negative, but rather entirely comfortable with their traditional struggles in the name of world sport. They’re used to losing, and frankly they’re used to losing to those bloody Aussies.
But not anymore. They sense a giant, overblown, washed up carcass on the shores of Weymouth and they’re at it like a flock of scavengers. First dominating the cricket, and far and away smashing us into the next stratosphere at the London Games, what was first complete shock and surprise is now a daily occurrence. They’re loving every single bloody second of this, and so they should.
It’s hard to see Britain ever coming down from this, after such an incredible display of human strength, ability and above all determination. No longer the (self imposed) whipping boys of sport of any discipline, the Brits have found their ticker, their grunt that’s been hidden for so long.
And what of the Aussies?
The vitriol that has spewed from the shores of the land down under, from our press but just as vehemently from the mouths of Aussies worldwide has been unforgiving. 46 medals in Beijing, 14 of them gold, and 58 medals in Sydney in 2000, 16 of them gold has been followed up by startling mediocrity. Only seven gold in London, with fears it may take eight years for us to return to winning ways.
Shock and surprise on our part originally, for entirely different reasons to the Brits, has been replaced by scorn. How dare our athletes, particularly our swimmers, perform so poorly.
Other nations have written about Australia’s motto that second is the first loser, that silver and bronze don’t count, that anything less than gold is ‘soft’ in our eyes.
Indeed it is. We’re a proud nation, and while the cheap jokes at the expense of the Brits may have hit a nerve, it’s nothing in comparison to the self imposed criticism our athletes will no doubt have already heaped upon themselves.
Aussie pride may have taken a hit here, but we’ll be back with a vengeance.
You can be guaranteed of that.
Do you agree? Tell us your thoughts below: