Australians told Olympic glory doesn't come cheap

Other News Materials 10 May 2008 16:27 (UTC +04:00)

Australia's medal-laden Olympic team Saturday appealed to the government for more money to ensure it repeats its Athens performance and retains fourth place in the medal tally at the Beijing Games, dpa reported.

"It's not rocket science," Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates told reporters. "They're going to have to find some more money if they want us to be there (in the top five)."

Coates warned the new Labour government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that it would be punished come election time if Japan or Germany finished ahead in Beijing.

"I don't think the Australian public will take kindly if we suddenly drop off again and fall out of the top 10." Coates said. "The Australian public are very proud of the performances our athletes have been achieving, so I'm hoping that's understood."

Australia finished fourth behind the United States, China and Russia at the Athens Game with Japan fifth and Germany sixth. The team won 17 gold medals in Athens, a national record.

Coates is angling for continued lavish funding for the world-famous Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), a campus in Canberra inspired by state-supported institutions in the former Soviet Union.

Australia sent 475 athletes to Athens, the second largest contingent after that of the US.

Australia has finished in the top 10 in 11 of the 14 Olympics of the modern era. In terms of its 21 million population, Australia was the second-best per-capita performer after the Bahamas.

Analysts estimated that taxpayers paid out 5 million Australian dollars (4.7 million US dollars) for each Olympic medal won in Athens. d