INSPIRED by their sailors, Australia’s Olympians are flying home with a wet sail after a sluggish start to the London Games.
Five gold medals in four days is not quite a gold rush by American, Chinese or British standards, but it has been enough to propel Australia towards respectability and perhaps better.
Sailors have won two of those five titles, with the prospect of more to come.
Australia also nurses high hopes in diving, canoeing, athletics and BMX racing over the final three days of competition.
“The team is riding on a good wave of emotions,” chef de mission Nick Green said on Friday.
“It’s alive and well. The feeling in the team is still very strong.
“Traditionally we win more medals in the first week but these Games are producing more in the back half of the competition.”
Australia’s 10th place in the medal table is well shy of its target of fifth, although that standing improves to seventh in terms of overall medals won rather than just gold.
By that measure, Green said the team was performing “right up to expectations” – seventh or eighth place with around 35 medals, according to its benchmark of predictions at the end of last year.
“We are in a really good place, with some good events still to come,” he said.
The sixth and latest gold medal on Thursday was a surprise package from a kayaking quartet of lifesavers – Tate Smith, David Smith, Jake Clear and Murray Stewart – in the K4 1000m at Eton Dorney.
Newly dubbed the ‘Oarsome K4some’, they headed a complete set of medals for Australia, with the youngest member of Australia’s London team, 16-year-old diver Brittany Broben, taking silver in the 10m platform and the women’s water polo team claiming bronze.
Broben produced a brilliant final dive to emerge from a log-jam of divers and claim the nation’s first diving medal of these Games, behind China’s Chen Ruolin.
“It feels like a dream but I never want to wake up from it,” Broben said.
But an anticipated hockey gold medal went begging, with the Kookaburras stumbling in an Olympic semi-final for the second time in a row despite going in as clear favourites, relinquishing a 2-1 lead early in the second half to lose 4-2 to Germany.
And Australia’s women basketballers also had to settle for bronze at best after blowing a gutsy half-time lead to lose their semi-final 86-73 to the powerhouse United States. – AAP