Look­ing back

Alpine News - - Front Page - BY IAN CH­ESTER­MAN chef de mis­sion Aus­tralian Win­ter Olympic team

RUS­SIA staged an ab­so­lutely re­mark­able Olympic Games and while they in­vested a great deal in Sochi, they def­i­nitely de­liv­ered in ev­ery area.

The venues were ex­cep­tional, the trans­port sys­tem worked per­fectly, the vil­lages in the moun­tain and coastal clus­ters were first class.

From a team point of view, the con­duct shown by both our ath­letes and of­fi­cials was ex­em­plary and ev­ery Aus­tralian should be proud of them.

Sixty ath­letes from over ten dif­fer­ent sports op­er­ated as one and from where I lived, with the ath­letes in the moun­tain vil­lage, I wit­nessed a com­mit­ted, sup­port­ive and har­mo­nious team.

We won three medals, To­rah Bright’s sil­ver in women’s snow­board half­pipe, Ly­dia Lassila’s bronze in women’s ae­ri­als, and David Mor­ris’ sil­ver in men’s ae­ri­als.

Three medals equals our best ever per­for­mance at a win­ter games, which was the three we won in Van­cou­ver in 2010, the color com­bi­na­tion was dif­fer­ent, two gold and a sil­ver in Van­cou­ver, com­pared to two sil­ver and a bronze in Sochi.

With that said, medals are hard to win and gold medals even harder.

To­rah was just a frac­tion away, a quar­ter of one point, from an­other gold for ex­am­ple.

Go­ing into these games we were five gold from a to­tal of nine medals and that is a strike rate that was the envy of nearly ev­ery other na­tion.

Af­ter these games our record is five gold from 12 medals which is still al­most fifty per cent gold and still, in my opin­ion, a very im­pres­sive strike rate. Did we fail? Most def­i­nitely not. Three medals and a host of top five, eight and 16 re­sults is still a re­mark­able achieve­ment for a de­vel­op­ing win­ter sport coun­try.

Did we aim too high, no. In my opin­ion if you don’t strive, you won’t achieve.

Low tar­gets are easy to get, but won’t cre­ate a cul­ture of high per­for­mance and we had 43 first time Olympians out of a team of 60 ath­letes and over seventy per cent of the team were rook­ies.

The crit­ics will ques­tion if some of the first timers de- served to be there.

Be­sides pro­vid­ing a shin­ing light to each of their own sports, ath­letes need the ex­po­sure to Olympic condi- tions and then they come back in four years time, or in eight years time, and they are hard­ened pro­fes­sion­als, able to han­dle the pres­sure and able to win.

Ly­dia Lassila is a clas­sic ex­am­ple. She was re­ally a rookie in Salt Lake in 2002, she blew out her knee in Torino in 2006 and came out and won the gold in Van­cou­ver and all up, that was a 10 year cam­paign to get to the top.

We don’t shy away from that goal of a top 15 fin­ish as we are a coun­try that strives for suc­cess and we want to keep im­prov­ing and the signs are look­ing re­ally good for Pyeongchang in 2018.

TEAM SPIRIT: The Aus­tralian Win­ter Olympic Team are led into the Rus­sian sta­dium by flag bearer, Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin.


SIL­VER LIN­ING: To­rah Bright won sil­ver at the Sochi games and only just missed out on gold.

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