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Austria laments worst Games in 50 years

india Updated: Aug 10, 2012 20:14 IST

Days before the London Olympics draw to a close, Austria was already lamenting its biggest washout in half a century Friday, with no medals to show for and poor performances by some of its biggest hopes.

"Biggest Olympic disaster now official," a headline in the tabloid Oesterreich read, after the country's last big hope -- canoe-kayak pair Yvonne Schuring and Viktoria Schwarz -- finished fifth in Thursday's final.

"Olympics: it's over," the daily Die Presse also titled, while the Salzburger Nachrichten asked "What went wrong in London?" and spoke of a "lack of winning mentality" in the Austrian team.

A handful of athletes had yet to compete in the marathon, the modern pentathlon, mountainbike and rhythmic gymnastics, but the common conception was that the biggest medal chances had already come and gone.

The only other time Austria went home empty-handed at the Olympics was in 1964 at the Tokyo Games.

In an interview with the daily Kurier Friday, Sports Minister Norbert Darabos expressed his disappointment and called for a "total reform of sport funding."

After a week of competition, Darabos already deplored what he saw as "Olympic tourism" last week.

"Only travelling to the Olympics and enjoying the great atmosphere, that's not enough... the aim is to bring home medals," he said angrily.

This Summer Olympics fiasco is only made worse by Austria's regular brilliance at Winter Games, where it dominates alpine skiing.

Despite what was considered a poor year for the men's ski team, the small country brought brought home 16 medals from Vancouver in 2010, including four gold.

"But winter's coming soon... by then the flop from London will be water under the bridge," the Salzburger Nachrichten saw the silver lining.