With Olympics excitement mounting, it’s interesting to read the Australian newspapers this weekend and see the reluctant acceptance that Australia’s sporting dominance over GB is well and truly in the past. According to this article in The Australian (behind paywall), it all goes back to that minute Jonny Wilkinson drop-kicked the ball through the uprights in extra time of the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final.
For a couple of decades before 2003, you may remember that GB’s record against Australia in most major sports was pretty dismal. Australia dominated rugby (both codes) and cricket, they were way far ahead of GB in the medals tables at the Olympics, and in Feb 2003 the Socceroos even beat England at football in that disastrous game at Upton Park in which Harry Kewell dominated and England lost 3–1.
Boy are things different now. England may still be shit at football but in other sports GB has world-beaters across the board. Just look at golf where as of today, Luke Donald, Rory Mcllroy and Lee Westwood are ranked 1, 2 and 3 respectively in the world rankings, and England’s test cricket team is world number one.
For the aussies it came as a bit of a shock when GB finally beat them in the medals table in the Beijing Olympics. (19–14 in Golds and 47–46 overall), and that will almost certainly continue this year in London. A country’s medal count always gets a boost when they are the host nation, and Team GB have made certain that the trend will continue after an investment of $469 (AUD) million (£312 million) in the last 4 years, double that of the green and gold, and more than any other nation from the 205 competing.
The sitting-down events (cycling, rowing, sailing) gave Team GB the most success in Beijing. That is set to continue in London but there’s also real hopes for the likes of Tom Daley (diving), Mo Farah (5000m/1000m), and Jessica Ennis (heptathlon), amongst many others.
For the Aussies, swimming will continue to be the best hope of medals. I for one will be cheering on local girl Stephanie Rice, hoping she can repeat the haul of 3 golds that she won in Beijing. Outside the pool Sally Pearson is exciting to watch and as long as she doesn’t slip up like she did at Crystal Palace she’s a good bet for gold in the 100m hurdles. Besides that there’s also high hopes in a number of events, including men’s hockey, sailing, and rowing.
On the 14th August, myself, Rach and Lauren will finally swear the oath as Australian citizens. That will give us dual citizenship. Between team GB and team Australia it looks like we’re going to have plenty of opportunity to sing alone to Advance Australia Fair or God Save the Queen.