Aussies target less gold, wary of England

Sydney: Australia have topped the medals count at the last six Commonwealth Games and are expected to do so again in Glasgow although with a reduced number of medals, according to team officials.

Australia came away with 178 medals, 74 of them gold, at the last Games in Delhi in 2010, but team officials are expecting a smaller total because of fewer medal events than four years ago.

The federal government-backed Australian Sports Commission is targetting a total of 152 medals in Glasgow through its Winning Edge strategy programme.

Australian Commonwealth Games Association president Sam Coffa said it will be difficult for Australia to surpass or match their Delhi total in Scotland this time.

"There are 11 fewer medal events in Glasgow than there were in Delhi, 261 as against 272. More athletes will compete for fewer medals," Coffa said.

"We also expect increased strong opposition from the teams from the home nations (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), all of which received significant amounts of preparation funding for both the London 2012 Olympic Games the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"India can also be expected to have a carry-over benefit from the home Games in Delhi, while the African and Caribbean nations are competing strongly over a wider range of events at each successive Games."

Team chef de mission Steve Moneghetti has warned his country`s "arm-chair experts" not to expect their athletes to be gold medal-winning machines in Glasgow.

"I`m not panicking, but the Australian public needs to be realistic and understand this will be a very challenging Games to have the success they take for granted and expect at a Commonwealth Games," former marathon runner Moneghetti said.

Once again the Australia team, numbering around 417 -- the largest ever for an offshore Games -- will be looking to their swimmers for a kick-start to the multi-sports competition with a target of between 53 and 55 medals in the pool.
The Australians have sent a powerful team of swimmers, including reigning world champions Cate Campbell, Christian Sprenger and James Magnussen.

Magnussen is returning to the United Kingdom where he bombed out at the London Olympics when the much-fancied Aussie 4x100m relay squad missed out on a medal and he then was touched out on individual 100m freestyle gold by a mere one-hundredth of a second to America`s Nathan Adrian.

The Australian swim team now has as their head coach Dutchman Jacco Verhaeren, who mentored world record breaking Dutch legend Pieter van den Hoogenband.

Magnussen is convinced he can lower his 100m personal best time of 47.10secs and break Brazilian Cesar Cielo`s 100m record of 46.91 seconds.

Campbell is the reigning women`s 100m sprint champion, while Sprenger won the 100m breaststroke at last year`s Barcelona world championships.

Australia`s track and field team will be spearheaded by Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson and world championships javelin medallist Kim Mickle.

Pearson`s Games build-up has been hampered by a hamstring complaint, causing her to pull out of Diamond League meets in Rome and New York last month but she relegated reigning American world champion Brianna Rollins to third spot in the 100m hurdles in Lucerne leading into Glasgow.

Cycling is another of Australia`s strengths and the team containing five reigning world champions is led by Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares, 30, competing in her fourth Commonwealth Games.

Meares is out to surpass Kathy Watt`s record seven Commonwealth Games medals by adding to her six-strong haul.

The `Kookaburras` mens field hockey team is another strong medal contender after beating the Netherlands 6-1 in last month`s World Cup final in The Hague.

The Australians go into the Glasgow tournament without veterans Liam De Young and Rob Hammond, who announced their retirements after the World Cup triumph along with successful coach Ric Charlesworth.

Five-times world player of year Jamie Dwyer, 35, was a shock omission from the Australian team as it rebuilds ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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