Olympics preview: Australian athletes setting pace in lead up to Tokyo Olympics

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 22, 2021
Adjust font size:

SYDNEY, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Even before the Olympic flame lights the cauldron to open the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 23, the Australian team has already rewritten the record books.

According to the latest figures from the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), a team of 486 of the nation's athletes will compete in 33 sports, including all four new Olympic events of karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. The team is the largest number of Australian athletes ever to compete in an overseas Olympics.

Among that elite group will be 16 indigenous athletes, which is an Australian Olympic record. The nation's first indigenous tennis Olympian, 25-year-old world No. 1 female tennis player Ash Barty is fresh from her victory at Wimbledon earlier this month, and is odds-on favourite to add a gold medal to her growing list of achievements.

Equestrian riders Andrew Hoy and Mary Hanna are also setting new national Olympic records. It will be an unprecedented eighth Olympics appearance for 62-year-old Hoy, a three-time gold medalist, while 66-year-old Hanna, as the team's oldest athlete, will be the first female equestrian dressage competitor to grace the Olympic arena six times.

Australia's Olympic presence in Tokyo began with the arrival of the women's softball team, the first international team to arrive in the Japanese capital. The Aussie Spirit are again expected to excel in the competition. Softball was omitted from the Olympic program for the previous two Games. Prior to that, Australia had won softball medals at every Olympics from 1996 to 2008.

Australia is expected to continue its dominance in the traditional aquatic sports of swimming, rowing, sailing. Swimming has long been the medal-winning backbone of the nation's Olympic success. Australian swimmers claimed 10 medals at both the 2016 Games in Rio and the 2012 Games in London, with four golds among the 20.

This year's squad has plenty of medal contenders, including Emily Seebohm and Cate Campbell, who join legend Leisel Jones as the only Australian swimmers to ever compete in four Olympics. With four Olympic medals already to her name, Emma McKeon is also keen to get among the gold again.

Australia's rowing and canoe teams are also predicted to make waves, with the teams containing not only Olympic records but also strong family ties.

High-profile canoeist Jessica Fox will compete in her third Olympics. The London 2012 silver medallist will hope to step even higher on the podium this time around.

Fox and her younger sister Noemi have followed in their parents' footsteps; their father Richard Fox won five individual world titles for Great Britain, while their mother Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi is a triple Olympian, bronze medallist and coach.

Nick and Alexander Purnell are the first brothers on the Australian Olympic rowing team since 2004, while debutant Rosie Popa continues her family's Olympic legacy, with parents Sue Chapman-Popa and Ion Popa medaling for Australia at Los Angeles in 1984.

Surfers will compete in the Olympics for the first time. The team, known as the Irukandjis, are serious medal contenders as Australia has long dominated the sport. Team member and world No. 3 female surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has won several major international events in recent months.

Rugby, hockey, cycling and equestrian also present Australia with gold medal chances.

The women's hockey team, the Hockeyroos, have three previous gold medals under their belt, while the men's team, the Kookaburras, have one gold, three silver and five bronze medals, and showed enough great form in a recent series against New Zealand to suggest they are strong contenders.

The hockey teams also continue Olympic family traditions, with Brooke Peris cousin to Sydney 2000 Olympic champion Nova Peris, and Kaitlin Nobbs following in the footsteps of her gold medallist mother Lee Capes (Seoul 1988) and father Michael Nobbs (Los Angeles 1984) and bronze medallist uncle Mark Hager (Seoul 1988 and Atlanta 1996).

As for cycling, Logan Martin and Natalya Diehm will be Australia's first Olympic BMX freestylers when the discipline makes its Games debut. The mountain bike team includes Daniel McConnell, who will become the first Australian to make four Olympic teams in that sport, along with his wife Rebecca McConnell, the first Australian female cyclist to compete in three Olympics.

Sport brothers Blake and Lachlan Edwards will make their debuts in the water polo team, along with Andrew Ford, who will also play alongside his sibling George, who was part of the team in Rio in 2016. Enditem

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter