Canberra Times

License article

How we'll turn the British sports minister into a dribbling Kookaburra

All bets are off when it comes to paying the price for losing the Ashes battle.

Picture this: a British sports minister, dressed in a kookaburra-print shirt, dribbling a hockey ball through Australia House in central London.

Now picture this: an Australian sports minister, wearing a Union Jack-emblazoned Stella McCartney tee, rowing a length of the Olympic course at Eton Dorney.

The British and Australian gold medal counts at the end of the Olympic Games will determine whether it's Senator Kate Lundy, or her British counterpart Hugh Robertson, who has to concede defeat on a personal bet and publicly pay the price.

The rider between the president of the Australian Olympic Committee and the head of the British Olympic Association is considerably more luxe.

John Coates and Lord Colin Moynihan shook on their deal seven years ago after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

"It started within days of the decision in Singapore, when John Coates challenged me to a magnum of champagne for every gold medal we won more than they did, and a bottle of champagne for every medal that we won more than they did," Lord Moynihan said when there was still a year to go until the opening ceremony.


"I told him to book a container because he's going to be paying out big time! That bet was made and we shook on it."

AOC medal predictions have varied in the lead up to the London Games, but at one stage forecast that the Australian and British teams would finish with 15 gold medals each. Predictions issued by Sports Illustrated this week tipped Australia will achieve its target by finishing fifth on the Olympic medal tally — with 16 gold from its smallest Olympic team since 1992 — while Great Britain will finish fourth with 23 gold.

In London for the two-week competition, Senator Lundy was prepared to stick her neck out and say Australia could win more gold than the British team.

"The home team advantage I think is strong....but I think we can do it," she said on Thursday.

"So many of the sports that we're up against the UK in are sports that we're both great at. The margins are the slimmest so anything can happen on the day, so I'm quite optimistic about it."

Sticking to his now well-worn line, Green stuck to making predictions about the team he is directing, predicting that fifth on the medal tally was the goal and reiterating he felt confident it could be achieved.

Whichever rival comes up trumps, champagne corks will be popping somewhere.