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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Other Sport

Aussies seek to put aside London low
AFP
Barcelona, July 28, 2013
First Published: 01:04 IST(28/7/2013)
Last Updated: 01:11 IST(28/7/2013)

The Australian swim team has insisted they have learnt from the London Olympic debacle, where they failed to win a single individual gold.

Independent inquiries into Australia's flop in the London pool revealed a "toxic" team environment where incidents such as drunkenness and bullying went unchecked.

It also emerged members of the six-man 4x100m freestyle relay squad had taken sleeping pills, banned by the Australian Olympic Committee, and played pranks at a pre-games training camp.

London was Australian swimming's first Olympics without an individual gold medal since 1976 and its worst Games medal haul - of one gold medal, six silver and three bronze - for 20 years.

Unity matters
Michael Scott, the Australian team's director of high performance since May 1 following a clean out of the team's officials, said improving team unity has been priority coming into Barcelona where the world swimming championships begin on Sunday.

"The ship isn't broken in Australia, but it needs refining and we have started working on that," said Scott.

"Team unity and knowing you have the backing of the team, helps support the performance culture you need.

"A fractured team, in any sport, will impact on individual performances.

"We're working on the refinement of our performance culture and greater team unity to make sure we stick together when the going gets tough.

Improving spirits
Former world 100m breaststroke champion Brenton Rickard said the atmosphere within the Australian camp has improved.

"Obviously, we can't change London, but it's about learning the lessons and improving.

"It's about enjoying ourselves and being professional inside and out the pool, not redemption for what happened in London."

Scott said the team had received detailed instructions on what supplements they can take after the men's relay squad was handed fines and suspended bans for misuse of sleep drug Stilnox prior to London.

"We are very strong on the awareness of what athletes consume in terms of supplements, there is a strong education process from their state institutes of sport and Swimming Australia," said Scott.


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