The Courier-Mail

A MEDAL HARVEST TO SAVOUR

OUR REACTION TO COVID CAN BEAR FRUIT IN TOKYO

- JULIAN LINDEN

IF THE global data experts are right, Australia is on track for its biggest Olympic medal haul in more than a decade.

The Games statistici­ans predicted a medal increase of more than 50 per cent before COVID-19 came along.

The latest forecasts are that Australia could do even better than initially forecast because we’ve weathered the pandemic better than most countries.

Before COVID, Australia was tipped to win 44 medals, including 12 gold, and finish sixth overall, well ahead of the 29 medals won at Rio in 2016.

The swimmers are forecast to win about a third of Australia’s medals in Tokyo. The rest will be spread across more than a dozen sports.

SWIMMING

With proven champions including Mack Horton, Kyle Chalmers, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Mitch Larkin and a new wave of stars such as Ariarne Titmus, Kaylee McKeown, Minna Atherton, Matt Wilson and Elijah Winnington, this could be the best Dolphins squad in years, after they set the benchmark by winning 19 medals at the last world championsh­ips.

ATHLETICS

Javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber is the reigning world champion but not the only Aussie in medal contention. A new generation of rising stars is surging up the rankings.

CYCLING

Australia has strength and depth across all discipline­s; road, track, mountain biking and BMX, where Logan Martin and Brandon Loupos have won the last two freestyle world championsh­ips.

CANOEING

Another strong sport for Australia, led by multiple world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Jess Fox.

BASKETBALL

The Opals can challenge the US for gold while the Boomers are out to break their hoodoo.

FOOTBALL

The Matildas, led by global superstar Sam Kerr, are in the medal hunt.

TENNIS

Australia has won five medals in tennis since it was reintroduc­ed to the Olympics in 1996 and with world No.1 Ash Barty is a strong chance.

SURFING

One of the new sports at the Olympics and one of Australia’s big hopes. Steph Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbon­s, Julian Wilson and Owen Wright have all qualified.

RUGBY 7S

Our champion women’s team is defending the gold medal it won in Rio, while the men are ranked fourth in the world.

BOXING

Australia’s last Olympic medal in boxing was in 1988 but heavyweigh­t Justis Huni is a medal chance.

HOCKEY

Don’t rule out a double medal celebratio­n for the Hockeyroos and Kookaburra­s.

SAILING

Multiple Aussie medallists are common at each Games and Tokyo is expected to be no different.

ROWING

With four men’s crews and four women’s crews qualified for Tokyo, this is shaping as a vintage Games for our rowers.

SHOOTING

The addition of mixed events only adds to the prospect of a good haul for our shooters.

WATER POLO

The Stingers have won medals at four of the five Olympics at which women’s water polo has been played, including gold in Sydney (2000). The Sharks are chasing a first medal in the men’s event but are among the chances this time.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar are among the best in the world in the women’s competitio­n. Hopes are high for a podium finish.

ARCHERY

Australia won bronze in the men’s team event at Rio in 2016 and are in the hunt again.

DIVING

Australia has medal hopes in the synchronis­ed and individual springboar­d events.

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