There should really be two Olympic Games. Not because the Olympics are terrific, but because they’re an increasingly meaningless measure of human achievement.

Togo's only ever medallist, Benjamin Boukpeti, kisses his bronze medal in Beijing. Photo: Getty

The first Olympics could be limited almost exclusively to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France. On the grounds of fairness, you could broaden the list of competitor nations to include other athletes from advanced economies such as Germany, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Australia.

The second Olympics – let’s call it the meaningful Olympics – would be contested by the rest of the world. Mali, Guatemala, Chad, Uzbekistan, Laos, Fiji, all of them competing for the first time in years on something that actually resembles a level playing field.

The fact that at the London Games more than two-thirds of the gold medals have been won by just seven countries does not mean that those countries have some kind of monopoly on athletic talent or a heightened desire to win.

As of lunchtime on Friday, the United States had won as many gold medals as Ukraine, South Africa, Spain, Romania, Denmark, Czech Republic, Brazil, Poland, Kenya, Croatia, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Canada, Sweden, Slovenia, Georgia, Norway, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Lithuania, Turkey, Algeria, Grenada and Venezuela.

Does this mean that the United States is better at sport than all these other countries combined? No. It means the United States is better at spending money on sport.

With every passing Olympics the medal tally stands less as a testament to athleticism than affluence. It doesn’t matter if it’s state-sponsored bravado by communist regimes such as China or the record contribution of taxpayers towards sports funding in a country such as Australia – and frankly, is there any real difference any way? – the end result is still the same. The richer you are the more likely you are to win.

This is not an attempt to detract from the sacrifices made by athletes in countries such as ours, most of whom have slaved since childhood with early starts, strict diets, exhausting training. I don’t begrudge the use of public money on their training and coaching either.

But you have to question the extent to which a gulf has opened up between the haves and have nots, so much so that it has rendered the actual spirit of the Olympics utterly meaningless, which in its inception was about testing the limits of human endeavour on a level playing field. Faster, higher, stronger has become faster, higher, richer.

The second thing you really have to question, with maximum force, is the blasé and arrogant assumptions of so many in the Olympic movement throughout the western world, who have got away with arguing that winning gold is so vital to our national sense of identity that government must keep pouring more money into elite sport. 

The Australian Olympics Committee appears to have sniffed the wind on this issue a bit over the past week, realising that the public will no longer cop perpetual demands for more cash, or buy the argument that anything less than a top-five finish is a source of shame. That old stager Kevan Gosper was out and about this week, claiming that our (apparently) disappointing performance was the Government’s fault, describing the (non-existent) shortfall in public cash for Olympians as “the difference between silver and gold.” Gosper no longer has anyhing to do with the AOC, which in an almost jaw-dropping moment given its past rhetoric, recognised publicly this week that sport funding was at record levels and that it wasn’t after more cash.

The AOC comments were in line with what seems to be the public mood on this issue. There has been a growing gulf between public perceptions of what constitutes victory, and the perceptions of those involved in the sports. The Australian people haven’t been angrily demanding answers as to why we have won so many silvers as opposed to golds, even though some of the sports people and administrators have been worried about it. There is a heartening widely-held belief that trying your best is more than enough, and that winning any kind of medal is an honour.

If you could hand out gold medals for nonsense, the front-runner from these Games would have to be the four-time British Olympic rowing champion Sir Matthew Pinsent, who put pen to paper in The Times this week with his call for buckets of public cash for elite sport in the UK. Pinsent tried to argue that Australia was currently recoiling in horror at its efforts in London this month, oblivious to the fact that our country is still functioning adequately despite not having cracked double figures in terms of gold.

He argued that Australia had failed to capitalised on the gains it made in Sydney and that the UK needed to avoid repeating our mistakes.

“Twelve years on the Australian effort has been reduced to rubble,” Pinsent wrote.

“If we get it right, this is the start of something special; if we get it wrong, we’ll look back and be wistful about the heights that we scaled and maudlin about the slide.”

Being maudlin would at least give the Brits a chance to go back to what they are truly best at. You could almost call it their national sport. And whatever joys they are extracting from their placings in London should be tempered by the reality that the taxpayers are the true unsung heroes of their Olympic effort, coupled with the advice of the many Australian coaches they pinched to teach them how to actually win something for a change.

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    • Gary Cox says:

      06:28am | 12/08/12

      I wonder what China think of the the US using their money to beat them

    • Carol says:

      04:49pm | 12/08/12

      Face it, the day the Olympics became the products of governments,  sports has long left the scene. The Olympics has now become a mass media spectacle, it has little to do with sport in the truest sense, rather it is about entertaining the masses.
      It takes the peoples minds of the real problems of the world and governments can sigh the gift of relief
      Nero did the same thing and the masses have not learnt!.

    • Nick says:

      05:06pm | 12/08/12

      I don’t know about China but I think the whole business has become quite disgusting.  From the way China rips kids out of their families and puts them in Olympic sport hot houses to the bankrupting of cities to the stupidity of the way organising committees harrass people trying to have a bit of fun to the obnoxious athletes to the inane media frenzies.  There isn’t a skerick of decency left in the Olympic movement.

    • Gold digger says:

      06:59am | 12/08/12

      As an avid sportswatcher, a patriotic Australian and a very amateur sportsman I have found this Olympic result disappointing. And I know I shouldn’t, I know we should be all they tried their best, and sport isn’t that important and all that, but I’m sorry I just can’t help but be disappointed. I love watching Australia win, and in previous Olympics have loved the satisfaction of seeing little Australia parked up the pointy end of the tally with the big end of town countries.

      I know the trendy thing now amongst the media class is to say that trying your best is all that counts and success doesn’t matter, but I can’t help it if my instincts tell me that I want more Gold!

    • Craig says:

      07:17am | 12/08/12

      The Olympics was an amateur event. Now it is a farce, with wealthy professional athletes competing alongside part-time amateurs. Guess who can afford to pay more to get in shape, and who has lest real world distractings to keep them from training.

      The rules put in place to attempt to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs have failed to recognize and address the most prevalent and effective drug used to enhance athlete performance - money.

      It would be interesting to add up all the government money spent by nations on the Olympics, both to calculate exactly how much advantage a dollar brings, compared to population size. It would then be interesting to contrast how many lives could have been saved or lifted out of poverty by investing those dollars into helping people live better, rather than helping a few elite athletes move faster.

    • lucy says:

      08:52am | 12/08/12

      some good points there Craig… yeah I don’t think professional athletes should be at the olympics either.

    • Sam says:

      09:47am | 12/08/12

      Yes, agree 100%. I could never work out why pro athletes are allowed in the games, why have tennis in the games ??? It makes no sense.

    • Gerard says:

      11:14am | 12/08/12

      If you don’t let professionals compete, then the results would be pretty meaningless. The gold medal winner could claim to be the best in the world- except for all the athletes that are better but weren’t there. Take soccer. It’s the most popular sport in the world but no one cares who wins gold because the best players aren’t allowed to play. Do you really want to reduce every event to this level?

    • Nevyn says:

      11:25am | 12/08/12

      The top 4 money earners in 2011 in sports were at the Olympics.
      A tennis player and 3 US basketballers…. Combined income for the 4?
      In excess of $200 Million US..  That alone is more money than many countries probably have to spend on their entire teams. For what it’s worth , Federer won gold, as did the US Mens basketball.. (I haven’t bothered watching, I assume they won)
      What it’s worth? nothing really, money buys 24/7 training and the best of support.

    • rudy says:

      12:08pm | 12/08/12

      Just remove most or all of the team sports - basketball, soccer, hockey, water polo. These are not played in the poor continents. Next, remove the sports where expensive equipment is required: sailing, rowing, cycling, equestrian. Poor Africans and Asians can’t play these sports. Finally, remove tennis. That would even it up a lot. It would be a whole lot cheaper to run the Olympics, too.

    • James says:

      01:15pm | 12/08/12

      @Nevyn, they get paid that much because they are just that good. It doesn’t have anything to do with what other countries spend on their teams. If a basketballer from Australia (for example) is good enough, they can earn that money in the NBA also. Just having “amateur” athletes is not meaningul, plus define “amateur” - do you mean like the Aus rugby team used to be “amateur”?

    • Dolly says:

      02:07pm | 12/08/12

      Federer didn’t win gold this Olympics. Andy Murray beat him in the final

    • Tango says:

      02:52pm | 12/08/12

      Nevyn - Andy Murray won the tennis singles gold medal. And the basketballers and tennis players don’t take money from public funds.

      The highest paid people in sports in 2011 were Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Roger Federer, Phil Mickleson, David Beckam, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex Rodriguez (baseball), Michael Schumacher, Lionel Messi. Then came
      Fernando Alonso, Rafael Nadal, Valentino Rossi, Tom Brady (American football), Lewis Hamilton, Derek Jeter (Baseball), Dale Earnhardt Jr, (NASCAR), Yao Ming (basketball), Dwight Howard (basketball), Dwayne Wade (basketball), Peyton Manning (American football).

      In any event, these top earners (if you assume that Andy Murray makes a few million from tennis), accounted for two gold medals.

      And if you go back to limiting the Games to ‘amateurs’ you have two problems. First, the countries that have big publicly funded sports budgets will still end up winning the bulk of the medals. Second, in many sports there are no amateurs. The top athletes competing in track and field, swimming, cycling, badminton, beach volleyball, volleyball, table tennis, triathlon and probably a few others earn money from competing in their sports.

      At the end of the day, it’s a dumb idea to revert to amateurism because no-one would pay money for TV rights, no-one would watch on TV or the internet, no-one would want to advertise on Olympic telecasts and no-one would buy tickets. The Olympics should be about the best athletes available.

      And tennis is fair because all the top players from around the world are there. Basketball is somewhat unfair because the US is the only country where you can make mega millions. To make the basketball competition more interesting, I would required the US to include 6 college players in their line up, with 2 in the starting 5, In no other sport, is there such a big foregone conclusion about who is going to win the tournament.

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:23pm | 12/08/12

      I’m only interested in seeing the best of the best competing at the elite level to give it their all. I am not interested in seeing part-timers, hackers, also-rans and tiddlywinkers. Leave it to the professionals and give us something to realy see. The Olimpics isn’t about equality but elite athletes competing in an elite competition.

    • Dave says:

      09:10am | 13/08/12

      Rudy say to take out hockey as it is not played on the poorer continents but why is it they Pakistan and Inida produced so many great players. Most, if not all, the Australian hockey players are amatuers whereas the Europeans are professionals as there is a very strong professional league in Europe. I think the Dream Team makes a joke of the Olympic spirit and it is time that there was a review of all sports that get a gig in the Olympics. Perhaps those sports with the most money top spend are the ones getting a gig but then again corrpution at the highest level of sport does not exist - just ask FIFA!!!!

    • daf says:

      07:24am | 12/08/12

      It’s disheartening and demeaning to see headlines like “Australians settle for silver again’.  They were awarded a silver medal and the addition of ‘again’ - suggestive of an unappealing trend - is downright rude.

    • Bear says:

      10:26am | 12/08/12

      Wouldn’t medal tallys with the exception of the big few generally be liike any other sports team? You can’t be good all the time. You’re going to have ups and downs regardless of funding. I’m sure Port Adelaide don’t want to be crap, they just are. You only get so many ‘super fish’ and random golds in things like diving and pole vault can’t be relied on. 7-8 golds is about where we are at. So what? Top 10 is still good I would have thought.

    • acotrel says:

      12:35pm | 12/08/12

      A silver medal in anything is not too shabby ! I’d love to see the journo who wrote that headline have a go.  You’ve gotta laugh at these armchair experts, they seem to have vivid imaginations and no experience in most cases. There is too much football bullshit on TV.

    • acotrel says:

      12:44pm | 12/08/12

      Perhaps the Olympics should be run like Little Aths - everybody gets a gold medal.
      ‘The system runs on bullshit’ - why not the Olympics as well ?

    • acotrel says:

      12:46pm | 12/08/12

      ’ I’m sure Port Adelaide don’t want to be crap, they just are. ‘

      Why pick on only one team when the whole sport is crap ?

    • acotrel says:

      07:27am | 12/08/12

      I think the Olympic games are a nice way for people with a common interest to get together.  And because the eyes of the world are upon them, the good example they set and foster with respect to international relationships is valuable. If we depend solely on our sporting prowess for self-esteem, we have a problem.  We should remember what people like Howard Florey, and Rutherford and other ANZACS have done in the field of science and use them as role models.

    • Dave in NH says:

      07:57am | 12/08/12

      One could argue that your “meaningful” Olympics already exist, in the forms of the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.  Some powerhouses still compete of course (China, Japan, Australia, England etc), but the poorer nations of the world have a fighting chance to medal.

    • acotrel says:

      12:40pm | 12/08/12

      If we can’t win in open competition, we should change the rules ! Then the Olympics could be like the America’s Cup - don’t bother to run any races, just hand over the gold medals.

    • Chris C. says:

      08:52am | 12/08/12

      Decent enough article, David, until the last bitter paragraph. Australians are as bad at losing as they are at winning aren’t they.
      Maybe it should be compulsory for all Australian schoolkids to study the reaction of Dawn Harper to winning a silver medal - celebrated her accomplishment with what appeared to be genuine happiness and pride, and then congratulated Sally with again what looked to be genuiine enthusiasm. Can’t help but imagine that if Sally and Dawn’s roles were reversed then the ideals of the Olympics would not have been as well represented.
      A number of Australian silver recipients resembled not symbols of Olympic greatness,  but spoilt kids throwing a tantrum in a supermarket aisle.
      The Sydney Olympics were magical. The London Olympics are magical. There’s space for two….

    • Greg says:

      12:39pm | 13/08/12

      Refer to Beijing 2008 for Sally’s reaction to winning silver

      Why is it ok for the 7th placed competitor to be upset about not winning but the person who finished 2nd or 3rd should be happy and celebrate being the first and second loser?

    • acotrel says:

      08:53am | 12/08/12

      Nobody respects poor losers.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda, and recriminations have no value.  If we bombed out, we just have to wear it, and do better next time. We have been in this situation before, lifted our game, and come out tops. Congratulations to all participants, you had a go!

    • Malcolm says:

      09:03am | 12/08/12

      All sport is about doing your doing your best and it is human nature to want to win win. The fact Australia didn’t crack double digits in gold or have a China/US size budget is immaterial. Most of the Aussie Olympic Team did brilliantly. The swim team seemed not to be focused and did not do as well as previous games. We have a great reputation in the pool and we should always have athletes who want to build on that in their heart of hearts.  Jamaica is not wealthy but rich in natural talent which will always win.

    • CanberraKid says:

      09:03am | 12/08/12

      What a grubby i’ll informed article. It just seems like you are trying to whip up negative sentiment rather than produce an article with a proper argument.

      The Olympics are a great show of human achievement. Your view of success is the problem. Sure gold is one measure but there are many good stories out there of overcoming adversity etc. As a journo can’t you spend some time tracking and sharing these rather than be lazy?

    • rudy says:

      12:10pm | 12/08/12

      This is an opinion site. If you want straight reporting, you’re in the wrong place.

    • BP says:

      09:05am | 12/08/12

      I will be very disappointed, no make that angry, if the solution to the Australian Olympic team’s less than stellar performance is deemed to be money. Sorry, you’ve got a pool, you can swim. You’ve got an athletics track, you can practice running. You’ve got a pole, you can pole vault. Surely this is about talent, coaching, commitment, strategy, good timing and a bit of luck on the day. It’s a hackneyed phrase but let’s get pur priorities right. And remember, the nation as a whole is much more likely to benefit from investing in science.

    • Andrew says:

      06:19pm | 12/08/12

      Yeah okay Bp, all you have to do is train hard everyday and turn up at event and you will be competitive, what a load of BS, do you really believe that drivel. Wether we should spend the money is another matter but to try and say money doesnt make a difference shows just how out of touch you are. You need topline facilities, you need equipment, you need the top coaches, you need the top techniques. You need to travel and compete as much as possible because you can train as much as you like but it doesnt compare to competing. Rick charlesworth coach of the hockeyroos summed it up perfectly. You prepare and coach your team as best you can using the budget you have, of course there are things you want to do differently but if you dont have the money in the budget you cant do them, you have to work out the best preparation you can have using the budget your given.

    • dobbieb says:

      09:10am | 12/08/12

      I am so glad the Olympics are OVER! I don’t need screaming commentators at 7:00AM or the normal programs at that time of day, e.g. ABC Local News and World News cancelled in favour of more screaming. May be I am alone, maybe not,.  Well done sailors.

    • rudy says:

      12:13pm | 12/08/12

      Get yourself digital radio. You’ll never have to listen to sport on ABC local radio again. Even without that, you can listen to ABC Radio National which has only brief reports of the Olympics.

    • acotrel says:

      12:59pm | 12/08/12

      I second that !  I enjoy listening to ‘talking point’ at 4 am on the ABC.  All that’s been on at that time recently has been a lot of noise with little meaning. I don’t begrudge the fans their coverage , but if it’s not Olympics it is horsey racing or footyball, or criquette, or gardening which at least is a bit interesting.
      I’m looking foward to the day when the screaming commentators all get jobs a t the lawn bowls contests - the really exciting stuff.  By then Casey Stoner will probably be playing on our team.

    • youdy beaudy says:

      09:18am | 12/08/12

      I agree with your comments there David but i would add something to it as well, just thoughts that i have had over it all.

      It is more disappointing to me the fact that while everyone is focusing on the joy of competing in the Olympics over in Syria their Government regime are attacking and killing their own innocent people and the world is sitting by and watching. Now, that is a bigger disappointment that losing some medal which will just in the end sit in some cupboard gathering dust like all the other trophies that are won.

      Yes, sorting out Syria and that murdering bastard Assard and helping the innocent to survive would be a much bigger gold medal for the whole world to win. What the hell is going on with us all in this world and it’s level playing field. Are we blind and totally non caring as well.?

    • Lloyd says:

      12:49pm | 12/08/12

      Agree with your thoughts 100 percent. And all that money spent on the Olympics could solve the poverty in struggling countries. Ah this mad world….

    • Gaz says:

      09:20am | 12/08/12

      Haven’t you got a bit of a conflict of interest here Penbo? Commentating on Olympic funding given who the previous sports minister is?

    • Sir Mo says:

      09:29am | 12/08/12

      David David David, the bigger picture here is that the true modern Britain you refuse to acknowledge exists has stood up, shined and gloriously, jubilantly made you look a prize fool. Maybe write about that. Arise Sir Mohamed

    • David Findlay says:

      09:42am | 12/08/12

      Team GB is primarily funded through the National Lottery, which I suppose at a stretch is a kinda voluntary tax. The state contributes £40m a year. Which works out at roughly £1 per taxpayer. After the past two weeks I can categorically say it is without question the best quid I will spend all year! Suck it up Aussies, you’ll bounce back

    • iansand says:

      09:51am | 12/08/12

      Every one of those people can do what they do at a level that is so far beyond what I could ever imagine myself achieving that I just love watching them do it, regardless of the colour of the medals or which country has won them.

    • stephen says:

      09:54am | 12/08/12

      If countries cannot afford to spend more money on its Athletes to get more gold medals, then that is a problem of Capitalism and not Sport.
      If you want to level-playing field the Olympics then you can do it for every other aspect of life ; otherwise, poor people will have to get smarter, try harder, and if they do not succeed with their efforts, they can resort to a superior moral code and wonder why life isn’t fairer.
      It isn’t, and if Tonga and Iraq want to get into the fold of Gold, they can adapt, just like every body else has done.
      In fact, these Games do level out the field, in that they offer the rewards to those peoples who realize that it is the processes of effort, of training and subscribing to a method of training that will give them a medal ; the objective is just that - the medal - yet everyone knows the work, by the time an Athlete is on the blocks, the real work, has already been done.

    • Maryjane says:

      09:56am | 12/08/12

      For the first time since the 1956 Melbourne games I have taken no interest in what is happening in London.  It reminds me of Woolworths versus Wesfarmers but on a bigger, grander scale.  All talk and money but little substance.

    • Dolt says:

      10:37am | 12/08/12

      Nobody outside Aus, NZ or GB cares how many medals we get or even notices. Get over ourselves! I started supporting other countries for fun, mostly ones with no chance of winning or with the hottest women. I don’t even know who won women’s handball but Norway punched above and what a collection of babes!

    • Achmed says:

      12:53pm | 12/08/12

      Millions poured into providing a fleeting feeling of superiority and national pride. Millions paid to the sportsmen and women to achieve that and even more in sponsorship dollars.  Gold medals should be given to our nurses, child care workers, firemen and other emergency service workers.  What a shame we dont think they are as valued in monetary terms.
      It says a lot about our society when we value sportsmen and women above these underpaid, undervalued essential workers.  So much so that there is a move to remove even their meagre penalty rates.

    • thatmosis says:

      01:47pm | 12/08/12

      The first paragraph of your article should read “There should really be no Olympic Games. Not because the Olympics are terrific, but because they’re an increasingly meaningless measure of human achievement.” Everything else after that is superfluous and meaningless as are the games.

    • Elizabeth says:

      02:21pm | 12/08/12

      Good reporting as usual, the Olympics is a joke.

    • Thanks Australia it's been fun. says:

      02:51pm | 12/08/12

      The sad thing I’ve learned this Olympics is:

      There’s something deeply insecure about the Australian media’s reporting on anything British related that’s completely out of whack with the daily conversations I have with Australians. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been pleased, generous and have enjoyed these game and whilst some have been a little disappointed with their own team they have heaped praise on Team GB and London.

      However, I don’t really associate myself with the chippy Aussie, Aussie, Aussie a 40+ middle/bogan class that dominate the media whose annoyance they aren’t British causes them to voice their deep seated bitterness towards all things British. They cling onto the Union flag, whilst hating everything it stands for. It’s mentally ill.

      As I’ve been explaining to family across the world who have been reading Aussie media (because I live here). “No, no Australians aren’t all insular bitter idiots, it’s just the media and most Australians hate them as much as you do.”

      The Australian media does the good people of Australia a terrible disservice.

    • DocBud says:

      03:40pm | 12/08/12

      “Being maudlin would at least give the Brits a chance to go back to what they are truly best at. You could almost call it their national sport. And whatever joys they are extracting from their placings in London should be tempered by the reality that the taxpayers are the true unsung heroes of their Olympic effort, coupled with the advice of the many Australian coaches they pinched to teach them how to actually win something for a change.”

      And Aussies are world champions at losing ungraciously and having massive chips on their shoulders.

    • AdamC says:

      05:57pm | 12/08/12

      This is a bit of a silly article. Sure, some nations choose to make significant investments in elite Olympic sports. Other countries choose not to. Some countries, realistically, lack the resources to make these investments. It is a matter for the countries in question the extent to which they wish to fund elite Olympic sports.

      Just like in other areas of endeavour, large, wealthy nations like the USA and China figure disproportionately among the top ranks.  That is hardly a reason to have a sort of Paralympics for poor nations, or to pooh-pooh the achievements of world-beating athletes.

      BTW, congratulations to the UK athletes, who surprised on the upside in their home games and took the fight up to the giants!

    • youdy beaudy says:

      06:14pm | 12/08/12

      It should be run only for Amateurs only as it used to be, i think.

      Professionals have a distinct advantage over Amateurs and for that reason only a very highly trained and financed Amateur could compete. Although there are many good Amateur atheletes in the world. But it would be fairer for the smaller unfinanced countries kids to have a chance within their own class.

      As like they have the Para Olympics for the paraplegics they could have an Olympics for the Professionals. Then the Olympic games could be brought back to it’s original intent. It’s also a money thing as we know, lots of money involved and also for the Gold winners they make money with supporting brands in advertising.

      The three Olympics could be spaced a month apart and held in the same stadiums and the people attending could have a longer holiday and the money would still roll in as it does. This would be fairer to all i think.

    • Les says:

      08:17pm | 12/08/12

      Obviously there are countries that are never going to have the money, or the population to top the medal tally, but what does it matter? Surely citizen’s of the poorer and smaller countries are just wanting their athletes to do their best, just like we wanted our athletes to do our best, as they generally have, with the exclusions of some of our swimmers, who you really have to wonder whether they had the motivation to match their perceived “entitlements”.

      Take Jamaica for example, they only have 4 gold medals, and 12 in total, but do you reckon anyone in Jamaica is complaining that the US and Chinese with all their money beat them on the medal tally? Doubtful, I bet they are too busy celebrating the success of their small team.

    • James says:

      09:14pm | 12/08/12

      I don’t care what you say, it’s two weeks of amazing sports. It can’t be perfect, but these Olympics have given us Usain Bolt’s 3 Golds. That was worth it alone, not to mention the many other sports I’ve enjoyed, some I only ever watch every 4 years.

      I would have liked for Austrlaia to do better, but quality sport is good no matter who the winner. Money talks. Not just in sport. Plus, the Olympics are about faster, higher, stronger. Why bring down the rest of the playing field instead of aiming for the opposite?

    • craig says:

      05:04am | 13/08/12

      i think they should have 2 Olympics as well ! 1 for clean athletes & 1 for the drug cheats !  imagine the 100m sprint ! & can someone tell me why can pro tennis players be allowed to compete but pro boxers can’t ! & also having macca’s as a major sponsor is like having Phillip Morris sponsoring the cancer council !!

    • Michael Walters says:

      08:54am | 13/08/12

      Being proudly descended from ‘poor stock’ of the First Fleet, I was truly of the belief that we Australians were the envy of the rest of the world. That everybody loved, or at least like and admired us. Others loved our down-to-earth, approachable nature. We were envied for our gregarious, ‘have a go’ demeanour, and value of ‘mateship’ (because apparently, we Aussies are the only ones who understand and practice TRUE mateship. Nah, I’m taking about REAL, TRUE mateship - as only Australians do). However, after living and working overseas (Germany, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, UK, Singapore, India, Brazil, Chile and Denmark) these past 26 years, I certainly have had my eyes opened in a humbling manner. We are NOT as popular nor well liked as we believe. We are seen as the world’s untrained Labrador - eager to please and be friends - but not overbright. This has now changed to being perceived as the ‘bimbo’ of the world - pretty and cute at face value, but scratch the surface, extremely shallow. This lack of depth is why so many of our scientists, medical researchers and engineers relocate to countries that value such endeavours. From what I have seen and experienced of Australian sporting teams overseas, we are shockingly poor losers in defeat, and even in victory we are ungracious. We are brilliant at knocking other countries, or “dishing it out” but boy, we cannot take it when it is dished back at us. Australia struggles to cope with criticism, and anybody who does criticise gets told to “go back to where you come from/if you don’t like it youse can leave”. We have become parochial beyond measure. After working with and within some powerhouse nations, I can guarantee that Australia is not as relevant as what we have built ourselves up to believe. None of these things make me happy. It did, however, make me open my eyes to how others see us. And no, others are not jealous. It’s that they just don’t care as much as we think they do.

    • Spatch says:

      02:30pm | 13/08/12

      Fair enough. But this is one seppo who thinks you’ve got a good thing going!

    • Spatch says:

      09:11am | 13/08/12

      Hmm. One of the biggest stories of the 2012 Games was that Great Britain and the USA finally managed to medal in men’s distance-running events for the first time in decades, overcoming master athletes from such economic powerhouses as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. The marathon was won by a guy from Uganda. Azerbaijan topped the USA in wrestling medals. The reigning American men’s beach volleyball champions were unseated by a couple Latvians. Maybe the author needs to actually watch the Olympics to get a handle on what’s going on.

    • Science says:

      10:08am | 13/08/12

      The Jamaican sprinters & Australian Swimmers prove penbo’s opinion is invalid. Money does not buy results.

    • mandas says:

      10:30am | 13/08/12

      Have the Olympics been on recently?

    • puffed says:

      11:56am | 13/08/12

      We already have two Olympics middle and distance running, where it is an even playing field. And the rest.

      Australia hasn’t one a medal in the real Olympics since Doubell in ‘68 (longer than Uganda)

    • Phillb says:

      12:02pm | 13/08/12

      Pfff, you want better results drop some of a prima donna athletes down a peg or two.  I couldn’t give a rats if they get gold, silver or bronze as long as they give it their best shot.  The lack of PB’s or even close to tells me they weren’t.  Some of our swimmers in particualr looked like spoilt brats after winning silver.  Other athletes such as diving, kayaking etc…  showed so much joy at being Olumpic medallists even if they did miss gold it was a joy to watch.
      Remind our athletes they are representing Australia not themselves.

    • Luke says:

      03:39am | 16/08/12


      Although the hosting of the games were (rightly or wrongly) largely taxpayer funded, athletes & sporting bodies in the UK are not. They receive performance & promise related grants from the state-franchised UK National Lottery. It also acts as a bridge between UK sports & potential corporate sponsorship.

      It was the brainchild of John Major while he was in Thatcher’s cabinet in the late 1980s & was implemented in 1994 during his two terms as Prime Minister.

      Funding for sports, arts & youth initiatives didn’t bear fruit until the early 2000s. If you look at British sporting performance (not just in Olympic activities but also in mainstream sports like cricket) since then you will notice big improvements in terms of success. It’s no coincidence. So I would say the (privately funded, a very optional tax if you like) initiatives are working well.

      I’m sure other countries have similar modes of practice, which render your article pointless. It’s not necessarily how much funding sports receive, but HOW sporting initiatives are being funded & taking an analytical approach to it’s structures. Performance related funding works well because it can keep athletes & it’s bodies looking for innovative methods to success. But if they are taxpayer funded (like with the AIS) a situation could develop where the sports can enter a safety zone & subsequently become stagnant. Because win or lose they still receive their funding.

      I’m surprised that you could get your articles published without event a hint of basic research. But then again I remember you publishing that racist SMS about Bilal Shafayat (incidentally a graduate of the lotto funded ECB academy in Loughborough!) so maybe I shouldn’t be…


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