Rio Olympics: Australian Olympic Committee Benchmark Study Shows Our Athletes Are Going Much Better Than In London

16/12/2015 3:19 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Harry Hubbard via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Jessica Fox of Australia, 1st Place. Womens Final Canoe (C1) at Lee Valley White Water Centre at Lee Valley White Water Centre on September 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Harry Hubbard/Getty Images)

The Australian Olympic Committee released its annual benchmark study overnight and it gives a pretty good indication that Australian athletes should do a whole lot better at the 2016 Rio Olympics than they did at London 2012. Phew.

The benchmark study is a snapshot of where our athletes are at right now. It basically takes their best performances at the highest possible level of competition in 2012 and says OK, let's pretend those performances just happened at an Olympic Games. From this they derive a theoretical medal tally.

The tally is good news. AOC Chef de Mission for Rio Kitty Chiller said that Australia would win 13 gold medals based on the best performances of 2015.

This is not a firm prediction for Rio but it's nonetheless an indication of better times ahead. Australia's Olympians had a collective shocker in London where they won just seven gold medals. It was our worst performance since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where we also claimed seven golds.

But the signs for Rio are better. Our swimmers in particular have excelled in 2015. After winning just one relay gold at London 2012 as well as nine minor medals, Australia's swimmers claimed 14 medals at high level competition this year, including seven gold. Here's hoping those results carry on into 2016.

Our track cyclists also fared well this year in elite international competition, as did our sailors, who were the saviours at London with three of our seven gold medals.

The benchmark study has proven fairly accurate in the past. People laughed when the AOC said a whopping 60 overall medals could be on the cards for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, but that turned to be almost spot on, with Australia grabbing 58 medals. The benchmark study painted a bleak picture for London which also proved to be accurate.

The current benchmark study has Australia sitting in equal seventh place with Japan on the theoretical medal tally with 37 medals overall. These include 13 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze.

With luck we could be in for a few more than that. For example, Australia won two silver medals at the the World Athletics Championships in Beijing this year. Therefore the AOC has assigned two silvers to Australia in the benchmark study.

But Sally Pearson, our 100m hurdles gold medalist from London, missed the World Championships to have surgery on her injured wrist. She's raring to go for Rio so she could provide a medal which is not factored into the benchmark study.

sally pearson gold london

A Rio repeat? The whole of Australia will be smiling if she does

Another athlete with a huge chance of exceeding the benchmark is canoe slalom champ Jessica Fox. The 21-year-old won silver at London 2012 and has won pretty much everything this year. She is clearly the best in the world and everyone in her sport knows it.

But she had a bad day out and finished fourth at the 2015 World Championships in the Olympic K1 event, so is not counted as one of the 13 gold medalists on the AOC's mock medal tally.

But with eight-and-a-half months to go until the August 5 Olympic Opening Ceremony, a potential gold medal at Rio is just about the only thing on her mind.

"As an athlete, you schedule your life in four year cycles," Fox told Huffington Post Australia. "Sometimes I'm lying in bed just thinking about things and then I go 'oh my god, the Olympics are on this year and my heart starts to beat really fast'."

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