By Bruce McAvaney
• Seven sports specialist reckons anything from 10 to 18 Australian gold medals, and from 10th to fifth place overall
Australia has enjoyed a couple of long-running golden ages. The first began in London in 1948 and continued to 1972 in Munich, peaking at home in Melbourne in 1956.
Most recently, the platform was built with seven gold medals in Barcelona 24 years ago, boosted to nine gold in Atlanta four years later, and then soaring to 16 by the Sydney millennium Olympic Games to a record 17 gold in Athens.
Beijing held firm. In London we teetered. So history suggests we’re in decline. But the forecast is for a bounce back.
Six of our eight London gold medallists are returning in one form or another and the predictions are wide ranging: anything from 10 to 18 gold medals, and from 10th to fifth place overall.
Of Australia’s total 142 gold medals, 59 have come from a single sport: swimming.
The last three Olympics tell a tale: seven gold in Athens, followed by six in Beijing, down to just one in London. There, Australia’s reputation suffered not just in the pool but across the board.
It’s Australia’s team sports that could provide the bonus to boost our results.
Two of them, men’s hockey and women’s rugby sevens, are gold medal favourites. We also have strong medal prospects in women’s basketball, football and water polo.
The team is about the same size as London: just over 400.