The Australian swim team is freaking out and pointing fingers at everyone and everything following a less than stellar performance in London, where they took home only one gold medal, six silver, and three of whatever the other shade is. Most are blaming a lack of cohesion and some prank phone calls and doorbell ditching, neither of which should hamper world class swimmers from winning medals.
The more likely scenario was posed by head coach Leigh Nugent in a letter to the Australian Swimming board, which was then leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald and eventually the rest of the media. In it Nugent argues that maybe expectations for the team were a bit too high, and that past performance doesn’t necessarily dictate future results.
“It appears evident following the barrage of criticism the expectation placed on this team was based on the fantasy that the result from four years prior will automatically repeat itself regardless of the comparative world positioning,” he wrote.
And while everyone agrees that Australia underperformed, especially following six golds in Beijing (note: two fewer than Michael Phelps), the team has only averaged roughly four golds per Games at the five previous Olympics, compared to the Americans twelve per Games over the same period. The Aussies only won five at their home Olympics in Sydney.
So yes, disappointing, but aside from missing the podium in the men’s 4x100m free relay, which James Magnussen and Co. were favorites to win, the rest can probably just be chalked up to a bad year.
To his credit, Nugent acknowledged the performance and is already putting a plan in motion so that the Rio Games will be more successful for his team and country: “Our process is to evaluate objectively and to continue to improve from the low base we started from in 2009,” Nugent added. “And establish a higher platform to launch from in 2013. This is a time where we all need to pull together, not fall apart.”