SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Australian Olympic Committee is to lean more heavily on the country’s world renowned Institute of Sport in a bid to get back into the top five in the medals table at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Founded after Australia failed to win a single gold medal at the 1976 Olympics, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is widely accepted to have played a major role in the country’s sporting success over the last three decades.
Tenth place on the medals table at the London Games last year convinced AOC chief John Coates that changes were needed and on Wednesday “Campaign Rio” was launched in Canberra.
The campaign is a partnership between the AIS - sometimes described as Australia’s “medals factory” - and the Olympic and Paralympic committees to deliver “the best planning and preparation” for Australian athletes in Brazil.
“I decided to do things differently for Rio after the disappointment of London and we need to work more closely with the AIS,” Coates said at the launch in Canberra on Thursday.
“The AIS will be a key part of our team. They need to be inside the tent.”
AIS Director Matt Favier, who held senior posts in Britain’s high performance unit in the lead-up to their highly successful 2012 Games, has been appointed deputy Chef de Mission, specialising in high performance.
His role will “mirror” the work of England’s World Cup winning rugby coach Clive Woodward with Britain’s team in the lead-up to the London Olympics, the AOC said.
Peter Dutton, who took over as Australia’s minister of sport after the recent election of a new government, was also present at the campaign launch and promised the A$95 million ($92.25 million) annual funding for Olympic sport would continue.
Coates, who was recently appointed head of the International Olympic Committee’s inspection team for the 2020 Tokyo Games, said the 2016 Olympics looked set to be a challenging Olympics for all nations.
“They are behind in their Games preparations and Rio will go right down to the wire,” he said.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford