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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Australian swimmers face review; Athletics in SA needs a similar review

Australian swimmers face review; Athletics in SA needs a similar review

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http://www.afr.com/p/lifestyle/sport/olympics/australian_swimmers_face_review_72AsFcvVRmz3YUszGZo8hJ

Australian swimmers face review

By John Stensholt LONDON
Financial Review
6th August 2012


A disappointing performance in the pool has prompted Swimming Australia to announce a review of the team’s performance.

Australia’s swimming team failed to win a single individual gold medal.

The review will be headed by coach Bill Sweetenham and butterfly gold medalist Susie O’Neill.

Swimming Australia president David Urquhart said in a statement the world had lifted the bar and Australia had to do the same.

Hoping to not only lift but jump over the bar is one of Australia’s gold medal chances Sally Pearson, who is in action on Tuesday night in the 100 metres hurdles. Pearson sent a message to her rivals on Monday night when she clocked up the fastest-ever Olympic 100 metres first round time.

The other gold medal hope, Anna Meares, races in the women’s cycling sprint on also on Tuesday.

Meares says she hopes to bounce back and beat British rival Victoria Pendleton, who won the keirin final. It would be a similar comeback to the one that Pendleton had to make after being disqualified from the team sprint before the keirin.”Victoria bounced back really well from the disappointment she had in the team sprint,” Meares said.

“That’s an example of a champion,” Meares said.

“Now I have the same challenge in the sprint.”

As for Pearson, she is determined to win and is quietly but firmly confident.

“These are the Olympic Games,” she said.

“Everyone has to lift and I think that is my key. I stay hungry. I stay grounded.’’

The pair’s strong standing and the performance of many other women in the team has highlighted the strength of women’s sport in Australia, even if it still lags behind men’s sport in popularity and media coverage.

The women’s swim team in the 4x100m freestyle relay team won Australia’s first gold medal on day one and team member Alicia Coutts ended with five medals, which equalled the record of an individual Australian at the Olympic Games.

There have been strong performances from the women’s water polo team and the women’s basketball and hockey teams too. Australia could also win gold in women’s sailing.

Then there is rower Kim Crow, who won silver in the double sculls with partner Brooke Pratley and bronze in the individual sculls.

“Traditionally the women have done very well at the Olympics but it is unfortunate that women’s sport doesn’t get as much coverage,” she said. “In terms of making a difference for the future, it is not easy. We only see our women once every four years and if there is any way which women’s sport can have a more regular part in the media in the interim, it would make it a lot easier for people to identify us.”


Given SA only had one member of the athletics team at the games - the women's marathon,(and it was in out-of-stadium event), it's about time a total review of SA track & field high performance was conducted. SA lags behind the other states for producing elite level athletes at the open level and it is a malaise that will continue while ASA keeps its head in the sand.

As Roger Pedrick posted recently in another thread, the standard of coaching and deliverance of programs designed to develop athletes to international representation standard is sadly lacking in SA and it's frustrating to watch quality athletes not realising their potential.

A comprehensive review conducted by an independenent panel would at least address what the issues are and where we can collectively improve.

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Some random thoughts on the topic:
Lack of exposure in schools to the sport of athletics. When I arrived in Adelaide in 1973 Teachers College had a successful athletic club which meant that we had a solid group of Phys Ed teachers in the high school system--most have now retired. Even the mist basic athletic skills are no longer taught--go to Santos on any schools event, most kids cannot perform a basic crouch start.

Following on from the above, basic movement skills are not taught.

Too many young athletes move to middle and long distance before they they have mastered this basic movement skills. They quite often lack the ability to sprint, even distance runners need to sprint, it is not that they lack the speed, they just have never been taught. In my view young middle distance athletes should concentrate on 400m, 800m, and 1500 with occasional 100m,200m,and maybe 3000m.

Too many of our athletes are hooked on training whilst forgetting that we train in order to race!

Many of ouy young athletes are physically weak. Since the demise of gymnastics in schools many young people are unable to handle their bodyweight. Percy Cerutty's edict that any athlete training with him should be able to lift his bodyweight overhead would see very few of our athletes at Portsea.

We should conduct a survey of our active coaches, did the coaching course provide them with the information that would enable them to conduct effective training programs for their athletes. How many do the course but have no intention of ever coaching?

We should aim to have athletes in every event at National level, provided they are able to meet the standards. That's the first step, the next us to get athketes into the top three.

Introduce performance bonuses in interclub, the faster you run , the more points you score---let's get rid of this "just run for the points" rubbish.

Anyway--food for thought!

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excuse typos--should used my reading glasses!

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