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Aussie media react to Olympic homecoming: Where the bloody hell are ya medals?

An athlete is embraced during the Welcome Home for Australian Olympic Games athletes at Sydney International Airport. photo / Getty
An athlete is embraced during the Welcome Home for Australian Olympic Games athletes at Sydney International Airport. photo / Getty

While New Zealanders celebrate our greatest ever medal haul at the Olympics, our cousins across the Tasman are showering their sporting stars with recriminations rather than celebrations.

It's not quite 1984 and the Los Angeles Olympics where New Zealand famously out-shone the Australians on the medal table - but it's not far off it.

Our gold medal stars like Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond and Lisa Carrington are being feted throughout the country at heartfelt welcome home ceremonies, the Aussies are being bashed up in their media and accused of failure.

Even their chef de mission has become a target as recriminations flow over Australia's "under performance".

It is the normally invincible Australian swimming squad that is the centre of the most criticism.

Australia finished 10th on the Rio medal table with 29 medals in total - eight gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze. New Zealand was 19th with 18 medals comprising four gold, nine silver and five bronze.

But pre-Olympics tipsters had Australia topping that haul by a considerable margin.
Team officials described the haul as "well below expectations". Many questions have already been raised about Australia's controversial 'Winning Edge' funding model.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Australian Olympic Committee has effectively divorced itself from the Australian Sports Commission following the nation's disappointing results with president John Coates saying the policy of installing top businessmen as the heads of Olympic sports has failed, together with the Winning Edge strategy of targeting selected sports with special funding.

"I have withdrawn from an ASC-initiated review of the AIS ," Coates said of a think tank set up by ASC chairman John Wylie three months before the Rio Olympics, to reboot the AIS following accusations the Winning Edge program had emasculated the Canberra-based institute by diverting resources to key sports.

Swimming, hockey and rowing received strong criticism for their lack of return in Rio while the overall Olympic performance was offered as proof by Brisbane's Courier-Mail newspaper that "Australian sports are going backwards".

"Australia again finds that its lofty pre-Games expectations have been mown down to size in dramatic style," proclaimed the paper.

Freestyle sprint star Cate Campbell is symbolic of the harsh Aussie reaction.

Despite stunning swims that earned Austalia gold in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay and a silver in the 4x100m medley relay team, the reaction to Campbell's failure to medal in the individual 50m and 100m events where she was strongly favoured has hit her hard.

She has repeatedly broken down in tears during media interviews both in Rio and since arriving home.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph lamented the hard-faced attitude of Australians.

"She (Cate) is defined by those failures rather than the euphoric moments she gave Australian sporting fans earlier in the first week of the Games.

"She has so much to be proud of and nothing to be ashamed of - especially after revealing she went into the 2016 Games with a painful hernia and will need to have surgery. The tragedy is, that's not how she sees it.

"Her run of breaking down in tears during live interviews at the Rio Olympic pool suggests, only in her own head, she is defined by those failures rather than the euphoric moments she gave Australian sporting fans earlier in the first week of the Games. She seems unable to deal with it."

The other key target for scorn has been Australia's chef de mission Kitty Chiller who was the face of the Australian squad, often putting herself in full public view.

News.com.au reported "that left a sour taste in many people's mouths, who wanted to see and hear less of Chiller and more of the athletes".

Prior to the Games she engaged in a public slanging match with tennis star Nick Kyrgios and had a crack at Bernard Tomic, and while she was over there she enforced a 2am curfew on Aussie athletes, banning swimmer Josh Palmer from the closing ceremony after he had a massive night on the town. She also initially handed down the same punishment to Emma McKeon for not notifying officials she was spending the night at a friend's place, before later changing her mind.

And if she thought she would escape any further criticism once she'd arrived back in Australia, she was wrong.

The talk before the Aussies' plane landed was the squad would be led out by Anna Meares and Kim Brennan - Australia's flag bearers for the opening and closing ceremonies. It didn't quite work out like that.

Instead, Chiller stepped out first, followed by Meares and Brennan.

The move angered viewers of Australian breakfast TV, who said Chiller had once again put her own profile ahead of the actual competitors.

- NZ Herald

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