Australia, buffeted by a series of high-profile sporting failures, has boosted funding for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and demanded their athletes retain top spot in medal standings.
The proud sporting country has ruled the roost at the quadrennial Games for nearly two decades, topping the medals table since 1990. The sporting balance of power has shifted firmly back to British teams, however, with Team GB topping Australia in the medal counts at the last two Olympic Games, and other British teams in rugby and cricket dominating their traditional rivalries.
The prospect of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland reasserting their dominance in the Games they invented would be an unedifying prospect Down Under, but Australia chef de mission Steve Moneghetti was having none of it. “Their best isn’t better than ours, now if we perform at our best that will be good enough to top the medal tally and I’m looking forward to our athletes relishing that challenge,” Moneghetti, wearing a kilt, said yesterday. “I’m really confident that our athletes will rise to the occasion.” Glasgow is likely to offer Australia its toughest test since the ‘70s, and sporting federations have been put on notice, according to Perry Crosswhite, the country’s Commonwealth Games chief. “I think it is important to maintain our dominance,” he said. “I think that the public expect us to always do well at the Games.”