Speaking at an Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) summit on the subject of athlete well-being earlier this month, multiple Olympic gold medalist and Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe shared his thoughts on national-level medal goals made publicly by Olympic Committees heading into a major sporting competition such as an Olympic Games.
“I don’t think it’s beneficial when sporting organisations are talking about how many gold medals we’ll win at a competition and that will be the highest number we’ve ever won,” long-retired Thorpe said.
“It puts an immense amount of pressure on athletes around something they have no control over.” (Reuters)
The Australian Olympic Committee has set a target of a ‘top 5’ medal table finish at the last 3 Summer Games, while individual sporting federations down under also have their own targets.
And, the nation of Australia isn’t alone in setting medal-driven targets, however. Japan, host of the next Summer Olympics, has announced a medal target of 30 golds for 2020. The British Olympic Association also targeted an overall 3rd place finish in the medal table when they hosted the Olympics back in 2012, partly due to the nation’s record-breaking performance in 2008 that resulted in a 4th place finish overall.
Shortly after Thorpe voiced his opinion, AOC President John Coates issued a statement supporting the Olympic swimmer. “We actively stepped away from setting targets for the very reasons that Ian has rightly raised in recent days. In November 2016, the AOC executive fully endorsed the position that no targets be set in our programme and funding guidelines for both Tokyo 2020 Summer Games and also this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.”
Coates said,“Our focus should be on Australians engaging in sporting activity and seeking to fulfill themselves through sport.” (Straits Times)