Games a success despite no gold - Australia chief

AFP| Updated: Feb 23, 2014, 16:19 PM IST

Sochi: Australia may not have brought home a gold medal from the Sochi Olympic Games but team chief Ian Chesterman insisted Sunday that the tournament had still been a success.

The country`s best results came in the so-called extreme sports, with Torah Bright winning a silver in the snowboard halfpipe competition and two medals coming in aerials from David Morris (silver) and Lydia Lassila (bronze).

However, as both Bright and Lassila were defending champions, some might have expected more from Australia than a return of just three medals and none the colour of gold.

Chesterman said the bigger picture showed Australia is getting more competitive rather than less so in Winter sports.

"We would obviously have liked a gold medal but we know how hard they are to get," he said. "We set out these Games with the clear view to win medals and we`ve done that again.

"I don`t take that for granted because I`ve been around this team since 1994 when we won our first medal, a bronze, so once again we`ve proved we`re world class in many programmes here.

"And whilst we didn`t reach our highest target, which was a stretch target, we can walk away with our heads held high.

"Now we have three medals plus what I believe is an incredibly strong performance, which is 27 top-16 results; that`s nearly half the team produced a top-16 result."

Australia`s two silvers and one bronze follow a medal haul of two golds and a silver four years ago in Vancouver.

What`s more, this time around there were more sports on the programme, most notably in their traditional strengths of snowboarding and freestyle skiing.

Yet Chesterman was adamant.

"There`s no doubt about it, this is a step forward for this team even though we didn`t achieve our top-15 target and walked away without a gold medal," he said.

"This is a step forward from every measure. You look at our top-10 results, we`ve had 15 top-10 results and 27 top 16-results.

"And they`re by first-time (Olympic) athletes or young athletes. There`s an enormous talent coming through and I think we`re really well positioned for Pyeongchang in 2018.

"I think it`s a pretty exciting opportunity that we have now to continue to move winter sports forward."

If there was one slight regret, Chesterman said, it was Australia`s failure to finish above the British in the final medals table, although he insisted they were not competing on a level playing field in that respect.

"That`s never a good thing is it? They came through with the curling medals at the end," he said.

"The British team is spending at least two and a half times what we`re spending on developing winter sports. At the end of the day they got four medals with their commitment, which is two and a half times as much as we`ve got, so I think our team continues to represent great bang, great buck."