Australia's worst medal haul since 1986 prompts recriminations, inquiries
Posted on Aug 04 2014 | IANS
Canberra, Aug 4 : Australia finished the Glasgow Commonwealth Games with its lowest medal haul since 1986, a lackluster performance that has already led to several internal investigations.
Australian athletes won just 49 gold medals and 137 medals overall at Glasgow - the lowest since Edinburgh 1986 (40 golds and 121 overall), reports Xinhua.
The numbers represent a dip of nearly 50 percent from when the Games were last held in Australia - in Melbourne in 2006 - and continued the team's poor showing following the 2012 London Olympics, where only seven gold medals were won.
England, with 58 gold medals and 174 overall, knocked Australia off the top of the medal table for the first time at a Commonwealth Games since Edinburgh.
What will follow is introspection and inquiry, with several Australian teams - including those from athletics and weightlifting - coming under the microscope.
Athletics Australia (AA) has already launched a board level review into all aspects of the Games after the embarrassment of the Eric Hollingsworth affair, the head coach being sacked midway through the competition after a public and acrimonious spat with team captain Sally Pearson.
AA president David Grace has called on all athletes to put their names to specific claims rather than hiding behind anecdotes and innuendo in a survey that will be given to all athletes about the Games.
"It's all very well for people to say 'oh there are all these allegations around about Eric and all these incidents that have occurred in the past' but unless people are prepared to put up, there is nothing we can do," Grace said.
"We would hope that if there is any concern that any particular athlete has had for something that has occurred in the past that they will express it."
He added: "This review will look at the whole of the team prep. Look at issues of management of athletes, the pre-camp, the concept of pre-camp, the selection of the team, all aspects."
Glasgow was the first Games in 64 years that Australia did not win a weightlifting gold medal, the worst ever outing given the number of events by a gymnastics team, the least successful triathlon performance ever and the poorest wrestling showing since 1970. And in athletics, beset by controversy, Australia's yield of eight gold medals was the leanest return since Edmonton in 1978.
While Australia's chef de mission Steve Moneghetti has consistently said that medal counts aren't the be-all and end-all, under the federal government's funding policies, those figures are the only currency that matters.
"We're pretty happy with the overall performance of athletes generally, but certainly there are some sports in an evaluation sense will look back and certainly dive into a bit of detail," said Australian Institute of Sport chief executive Matt Favier.
"With some sports we'll be having conversations with them around their performance here, and what does that indicate for us as a nation with regards to Rio."
Favier, whose agency is charged with divvying up USD 120 million in high performance funding to sports, says Australia's overall medal count fell at the mid point of their expectations; the gold medal haul at the lower to mid range.
He was buoyed by Australia's performance in shooting, track cycling, boxing and the improvement since London in swimming.
As was the case at the London Olympics in 2012, several Australian teams were divided by in-fighting throughout the meet.
The high-profile falling out between Hollingsworth and hurdling gold medallist Pearson was one of the stories of the Commonwealth Games and again highlighted the off-field troubles Australia faced.
Squash player Zac Alexander was also controversially omitted from the Australian team following an 11th-hour decision, leading to a mini-protest from his playing partner Ryan Cuskelly, who it was claimed "didn't even want to step foot on the court".
Matthew Karwalski replaced Alexander in the team, leading to an alleged fall in morale.
However Moneghetti wasn't critical of Australia's performances in Glasgow and instead put the decline down to England's success, as it was still benefiting from increased funding following the 2012 London Olympics.
"I think England has performed really well and give credit to them," Moneghetti said. "I think they've probably achieved higher and we've probably achieved about what we expected."