The public reaction to Australia’s failures at the 2012 London Olympics keep on coming. In todays Herald Sun, one of the country’s largest newspapers, is asking it’s readers to vote on which sport had the worst year in 2012? Swimming is included in amongst the five sports in the poll.
As reported in The Canberra Times the Australian Sports Commission and Sports Minister Kate Lundy will announce a new strategic plan for sport in Australia on Friday.
There is a lot of speculation that one of the areas that may be hardest hit on Friday will be the Australian Institute of Sport.
The Australian Institute of Sport opened their doors on January 26 (Australia Day), 1981. The impetus for the creation of the institute was the Aussies dreadful showing at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games where they won a total of five medals; one silver and four bronze.
In 1980 Bob Ellicott, the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment revisited a report drawn up five years earlier that suggested that the sports system in Australia create a centre that would provide Australian athletes with the necessary resources to be successful at the international level.
Once created the stated mission of the institute was, “To develop elite sport in Australia by providing facilities and funding to sporting organisations and potential elite athletes.”
The first director of the AIS was legendary swim coach Don Talbot.
The institute reached the height of it’s success at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when athletes from the AIS won 32 (8 gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze) of Australia’s 58 total medals.
Throughout its history the Australian Institute of sport has been the home to many great swimmers beginning with the AIS’s first Olympic medallists at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Mark Stockwell, Michele Pearson and Rob Woodhouse.
Some of the other Notable swimmers throughout the years include;
Pietra Thomas who won a silver in the 200 butterfly at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and three more medals in Sydney.
Michael Klim who won two gold and two silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The most recent start to call the AIS home is Alicia Coutts who won five golds at the 2012 Olympics in London.
International stars also found success while training at the AIS most notably Russian Alexander Popov the 1992 and 1996 50 and 100 meter freestyle Olympic Champion, who began training at the institute in 1993 when his coach Gannadi Touretski was hired to work in Australia.
One of the strategies that is expected to be announced in the plan on Friday is that the individual sports take more control of government funding providing their own high performance programming and providing their own national scholarships which has been a big part of the AIS’s responsibilities in the past.
Director of the AIS Matthew Favier, who spent the past decade working in the UK sports system and was hired by the AIS in April (sounds a little familiar as it is that rumours Michael Scott will follow the same path) was quoted in an interview with Fairfax Media as saying, “‘Every sport that’s on program here at the AIS will continue until the end of 2013.”
”I’m not convinced … looking around at other systems in the world … that we have evolved significantly enough or fast enough to move on from a traditional way we’ve operated.”
”I think systematically at the moment we are on a slippery slope, so we need to be very careful about the next steps we take because they will be significant for us. If we have aspirations to stay inside the top 10 [on the Olympic medal tally], we absolutely need to think about what we do.”