(Sports) Australia aiming for top-five finish on Rio 2016 medal table
CANBERRA, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Senior members of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) have set the ambitious target of a top- five finish in the medal tally at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The AOC's stated aim came in the wake of the team's poor showing at the 2012 London Olympics and mediocre performance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where Australia failed to top the medal tally for the first time since 1986.
Australia's success at the Olympics has been on a rapid descent since national medal tally records were broken at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games in Sydney and Athens respectively.
The team won 58 overall medals in Sydney and 17 gold medals in Athens -- breaking Australian records in the process.
On both occasions, the team finished in fourth place on the medal tally.
However at London 2012, Australia claimed only seven golds and 35 medals overall, finishing 10th on the medal tally -- the joint- lowest of any Australian team since the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Following a further decline at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the team is at risk of dropping out of the top 10 in the Olympics for the first time in what would be 28 years.
However, Australia's Olympic chef de mission, Kitty Chiller, believes the nation can return to the top five for just the fifth time in its history in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"We'll need around 13 or 14 gold medals to get into that top five, so that's double the number of gold medals that we won in London," Chiller told media on Wednesday.
"We'll probably need in the mid-40s to finish in the overall tally in the top five.
"What's important is to convert those fifths, sixths, seventh and eighth places. Australia got a lot of fifth to eighth places in London. It's making sure we're doing everything to convert the silvers and bronzes to golds and the fifth to eighths onto the podium and that will make the difference."
Chiller also revealed that Australia is targeting a team of 476 athletes to take to Rio -- just shy of the team-high 483 that went to Athens in 2004.
However, she refused to be drawn on criticisms relating to Australia's poor showing in Glasgow at the recent Commonwealth Games, suggesting she could only get a proper gauge of where the nation needs to improve following events involving teams from across the world.
She won't have to wait long to find those results, with world championships for sports such as basketball, rowing, sailing, swimming and triathlon on the horizon in the coming months.
Chiller's confidence in securing a top-five finish in Rio was shared by the AOC president John Coates.
Although Coates did concede that achieving the feat would be a tough ask, he reiterated that Australia must set its standards high.
"(Top five) is very, very difficult," Coates said. "We're being significantly out-funded by the British, French, German and now the Japanese.
"If you are prepared to accept something less, then something less will happen.
"You might not always achieve what you aspire to, but I'd rather have a target that's up there than giving up before we start."
As well as setting the team's goals for the 2016 Olympics, the AOC have also named an additional six Olympic team leaders.
Ian Baker-Finch (golf), Luca Liussi, Scott Bowen (rugby sevens), Jonathan Grady, Tamara Sheppard (basketball) and Trish Heberle ( hockey) have joined a team of 16 specified Olympic leaders for the 2016 Games.