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SBD Global/August 14, 2012/Olympics

Countries Look To Re-Evaluate Specific Sports Programs After London Games

Athletics Australia will restructure its high-performance department, following the team's results at the London Games, "where it fell short of its ambition to win six medals." AA Chair Rob Fildes said, "We will review the high-performance department in entirety, which is normal after the Olympic Games." Fildes revealed AA had decided to split head coach Eric Hollingsworth's job into two roles, deciding it was "too big for one man." A new administrator will manage the high-performance program, while Hollingsworth continues in the coaching role. AA is also negotiating with the Australian Institute of Sport to establish performance centres for distance running and sprinting "to improve in those disciplines." Hollingsworth is contracted until the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He does not think lack of funding is a major issue and said he would recommend AA take a more "ruthless approach" to the national team. Hollingsworth: "If you've got bucketloads of money it's easier to get performance but I wouldn't put that down as the major factor, not just around our team, but around the general (Olympic) team" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/14). REUTERS' Iain Rogers cited Secretary of State for Sport Miguel Cardenal saying that Spanish athletics needs to take a long, hard look at itself after failing to win a single medal at the London Games. However, Cardenal did say that he was "generally satisfied" with Spain's total haul of 17 medals in London. It was the second Games in a row in which the country "had flopped in athletics," as they also left Beijing in '08 empty-handed. Cardenal: "We need to reflect profoundly with athletics; it's not the first time we have failed to win a medal. But we are not the only country this has happened to." He added, "The sudden arrival of emerging countries is also a factor. Now countries are dominating who did not pay any attention to the sport before" (REUTERS, 8/13).

RE-EVALUATE OTHER AREAS: In Auckland, Claire Trevett reported government funding for high-performance sport will come to a halt for at least the next two years, "despite athletes exceeding expectations in the medal haul" at the London Games. New Zealand Sports Minister Murray McCully said the country's financial situation means sport will suffer the same fate as other government programs, and will "flatline" for at least two years. All codes will have to "absorb cost increases or secure more sponsors," while some could also "struggle to hold onto their coaches if they are lured" away by int'l teams (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 8/13). In Hong Kong, Chan Kin-wa noted Hong Kong Olympic Committee Honorary Secretary General Pang Chung said that Hong Kong "must make better use of its resources and focus on sports that suit the city's population" in order to win medals at future Olympic Games. However, Pang was still "delighted with the results in London." Pang: "We did better than four years ago in Beijing. We also saw some good results in table tennis, badminton and windsurfing." He added, "But Hong Kong is a small city, and we need to make better use of our resources if we want to challenge the best in the world" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 8/13).

IT WAS A GOOD YEAR: The KOREA TIMES noted South Korea did "better than expected" at the London Games. Korean Olympic Committee officials said that large companies' support of Korean athletes "greatly contributed to their success" at the Games. Korea won Gold Medals mostly in archery, shooting, fencing and gymnastics -- "events which are unpopular among people at home" (KOREA TIMES, 8/13). SPONSORSHIPNEWS.com.au noted the Australian Olympic Committee gathered a "strong social media following" throughout the London Games. The AOC's Twitter, Facebook and Google+ following at the beginning of July was 47,200, but that number grew to 175,000 followers during the Games (SPONSORSHIPNEWS.com.au, 8/13). REUTERS' Rex Gowar wrote an Olympics medal haul of 17 and a 22nd overall finish "was not a bad return for the future Olympic hosts, even if Brazil failed to win some almost-certain Gold Medals, while picking up others unexpectedly." Brazil "will be looking for far more" than three Golds, five Silver and nine Bronze when Rio de Janeiro hosts in '16. The region's biggest and most populous country "was let down in the sports where they have the best training programmes and facilities," but they can "take heart from surprise results" in disciplines such as boxing, judo and gymnastics. Brazil is targeting a finish among the top 10 on the Medals list at the Rio Games (REUTERS, 8/13).
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