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.