Australia aims at top 5 on Rio Olympic medals tally: Chef de mission

Canberra, July 15 (IANS) Exuding confidence about the Australian contingent putting up a stellar show at the Rio Olympics next month, Chef de mission Kitty Chiller on Friday said the morale was very high.

After a humiliating finish four years ago in London, Australia aims to win back its glory by making its way to within the top five on the medals tally at Rio, reports Xinhua.

“The morale is fantastic. Actually it’s never been better. We’ve been focusing in the last three years to build up the culture and values of the team.”

“We’ve had 120 years of continuous participation (in the Olympic Games). And Olympic Games and Olympic team mean a lot to the public. We want to explain that to our athletes. They know when they put on that Australian blazer, they carry with them the tradition and history and pride of the past. That work we’ve done had created a sense of unity in the team.”

Chiller said the top three spots at the medal tally have been wrapped up by China, United States and Russia, not in that particular order though. It would be very hard to break into those three.

Australia eyes a place within top five on the tally, with Great Britain, Japan, Germany, New Zealand as its major competitors.

“History showed there would be one, two, three-gold medal difference between fourth ranking and eighth place. It’ll be very tight,” she said.

Chiller said that swimming has won a third of Australia’s overall Olympic medals and Australia is still counting a lot on the swimmers.

Despite a disappointing London campaign, she said the swimming team have done a lot of work in and out of the pool in the last four years.

“We have eight world No.1 rankings at the moment. Cate Campbell of course her 100m freestyle world record just a couple of weeks ago. We are very very pleased with how our swimming is going. I really hope they can get us a really good start in week one,” she said.

Apart from swimming, Australia is also strong in track cycling, rowing, canoeing and sailing. Chiller particularly reminded those who follow Australian performance at the Olympics of a number of team sports.

“We have a few team sports that rank world No.1 Women’s water polo team in great space really challenging for gold medal. Men’s, women’s basketball team and men’s hockey team, recent trophy winners. And our rugby 7’s teams. Women’s rugby 7 just won the world series for the first time. Really looking forward to what our team sports can do for Australia.”

Chiller said it’s probably a good thing that China — competitive in table tennis, badminton, gymnastics, diving and other sports — and Australia are good in different disciplines.

As for the Zika virus in Brazil, Chiller said the risk of a Zika virus outbreak in August, which is winter, a cooler and dry season is “close to negligible as you can get”.

“We have very strict and comprehensive health and wellbeing protocols and guidelines in place,” Chiller said.

“We have a long protocol, wearing long sleeves, long legs wherever you can, put on the fisherman’s repellent, use air conditioning, avoid stagnant water. If all those protocols are followed, I have full confidence our team members will be fine.”

–IANS

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