The Australian Olympic team are desperate to avoid a national disaster - aware that they are perilously close to the worst medal haul in 28-years.

Not for the first time at a games, the Australian sailing team have produced a last-ditch rescue mission to prop-up the Australian medal tally, which is unlikely to surpass London's total of 35 medals.

And in a startling oversight, the AOC's benchmark for Rio last December of 37 medals, including 13 gold, is almost certain to fall drastically short with just four days of competition remaining in Rio.

The level of disappointment and failure to turn contenders into champions across the majority of the Australian team will lead to deserved criticism and pressure on Australian Sports Commission chairman John Wylie, who headed-up the ASC's controversial Winning Edge strategic plan after the London games four years ago.


Wylie said the Winning Edge funding model would deliver a top-five finish in Rio.

However, the majority of the Australian team have so far been unable to deliver, suffering from a string of near-misses, world-class stage fright and poorly coached athletes in Rio.

The poor showing has been underlined by the inability of most of our national teams, particularly hockey, to progress through the medal rounds. Only the women's rugby sevens team lived up to their potential taking gold early in the Olympic program.

Prior to Day-12 of the games, Australia were ninth on the overall medal tally.

Having secured a total of 24 medals, Australia sit 11 short of the total medals bagged in London four years ago.

Laser sailor Tom Burton's gold medal and a silver from Nacra 17 mixed cousins Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse leaves Australia three medals shy of the total obtained in Barcelona 1992.

And while sailing duo Mat Belcher and Will Ryan in the men's 470 are expected to add another medal, it would require Australia to bag a further two medals to ensure Rio isn't the worst performance by an Australian Olympic team since Seoul in 1988.

In a brief interview with News Corp, Chef de mission Kitty Chiller admitted results probably "hadn't gone our way", but was reticent to rule out the prospect of success over the final few days.

"You know what, I'm just taking each event and each athlete and each sport, as it comes," Chiller said.

"Everyone is going in there and doing their very best in every event.

"You look at Jarrod Poort (open water swimming) and Murray Stewart (K1 1000m), they went out and gave it a good go.

"Murray finished fourth, Jarrod back, but everyone is doing their very best and that's all we've ever been able to ask and you can't take that away from them.

"The results probably haven't gone our way in some of the events, but we've still got a lot of great medal hopes to come.

"There's a lot of positive feeling in the team, the support, the respect is still there between the sports and the village and in our satellite village in the (Ipanema) towers and that's all we're focused on now."

With a silver medal around his neck, Waterhouse said the Australian sailing team were focused on delivering for themselves as much as the entire Olympic team.

"We support our fellow athletes throughout the whole Olympic team, we're always cheering them on throughout all the events," Waterhouse said.

"I think with us sailors, we just want to contribute as much as possible.

"We have a high work ethic and high standards for ourselves and I think that's why we're successful.

"I don't know if you would call it a rescue mission, we're just trying to help out and put in as much as we can."