Danger in losing sight of how much a gold medal is worth, says Thorpe
King of the kids ... Ian Thorpe meets swimmers at the Tooting Bec pool. Photo: Jason South
WHILE the nation has been able to feast on the golden success of recent Games, it has spoiled the country when it comes to Olympic expectations, and Ian Thorpe believes it has resulted in a lost appreciation of what a single gold medal is worth.
Thorpe was asked yesterday: considering Australia had not lived up to expectations at the London Games, was there a complacency trap Britain should beware of in coming years? He pointed to government funding, saying while it had been massive in the lead-up to a home Games, the government must continue to play a role.
''It's a conversation around funding and what the government's role is in sport in the future and what the lottery fund does,'' he said. ''For team GB … if you look at the results of the Australian team and the results of Sydney and then Athens and then Beijing, we had 47 gold medals in those three Olympics, which is more than a third of all the [gold] medals we have ever won in history.
''Last time I looked, we were on seven [in London] which is historically high on what we do on average. But we have become accustomed to having great results, and I think we have lost the appreciation for the value of one gold medal and each of the individual gold medals that are won.
''The risk here - it's the same risk in Australia - is the kind of complacency in success and not looking at pushing the model further. I think looking at what role government plays in sport … governments looking at acting as the biggest sponsors of sport, is the way they should be acting and getting people into the community and getting athletes into the community. I think that can be the legacy.''
Thorpe had only a few minutes left for the media, so when asked his thoughts on what needs to be done with Australia sport, he was unable to get right into the answer.
''I thought about this because I knew the question would come about Australian swimming, and I don't think it's actually been better in terms of organisation,'' he said as Swimming Australia undergoes a review of all levels of the organisation.
''I actually think if we are going to have a really big chat about this in terms of swimming … in Swimming Australia I'd like to see that's it's not controlled by the states, and that we are actually given special permission to the elite side of our sport, so that it can be separate and that we [that elite side] can make decisions separately, unlike how the board is actually constructed at the moment, because it is limited.''