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Luckily for Australia, winning really isn't everything

  • 22 August 2016


If this Olympic Games leaves us with any legacy, let it be that the phrase 'podium pants' now enters the lexicon.

The Irish brothers Gary and Paul O'Donovan might have only taken home the silver medal, but they've become global stars thanks to the hilarious interviews they've been giving after their event in Rio, from going into unnecessary detail about the process of giving urine samples, to expressing their disappointment about not being back at the pub at home in Skibbereen.

In fact, most of my favourite moments at the Olympic Games this year have been from 'losers' — presuming you can really apply that label to anyone who's reached the elite level of a global sport.

Australian runner Ella Nelson was informed in a live TV interview that she'd missed out on qualifying for the 200m final by 0.1 of a second. You can see the disappointment flash across her face in the video but then moments later she recovers as she takes in the whole moment.

'I just ran a PB (personal best) at the Olympic Games,' she says. 'I couldn't have asked for a better 2016. I hate that it's one hundredth ... but I'm so happy. How can I not be?'

These moments provide a fascinating contrast to the columns that have been appearing in the media following what has been a disappointing Olympics in terms of medals success.

Australia appears likely to fall well short of its pre-games medal target of 13 gold medals, with many of its more fancied contenders failing to live up to the high public expectations. In fact, Australia looks like not even reaching its medal total for the London Olympics (35 medals), which was the country's worst performance in 20 years.

Apart from the women's rugby sevens and the men's basketball team, Australia's performances in team sports have been disastrous, with teams in rugby, hockey, basketball and soccer dropping out in early rounds. Swimmers and cyclists and other athletes who had previously had success in world championships have failed to win medals.


"How inspired does a local butcher get when they see the little kid who used to come into the shop with her parents competing in the judo tournament? How do you put a financial price on these outcomes?"


Criticisms have been raised about the government's Winning Edge funding strategy, which has seen money poured into elite sports where Australia has traditionally been most successful or where medals seemed