We’re up there with the best, says Sports Minister

“Up there with the best” … Sports Minister Kate Lundy.Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy has defended Australia’s swag of silver medals at the Olympic games, saying that Australia was coming “so close so many times”.

“It’s a millimetre or a millisecond and it’s just not going our way,” she told ABC radio from London.

With the Olympic games more than halfway over, Australia has scored one gold medal and 12 silver.

“I don’t think that diminishes the achievements of our silver medallists. They’re on the podium. We’re still way up there with the best of the best,” Senator Lundy said.

The Sports Minister said that there would likely be an “assessment” of Australia’s high-performance program after the Olympics but insisted that the national sports system was working well.

“There’s no one piece of our sports system that’s broken,” Senator Lundy said. “What we do need to do is to continue to innovate.”

Yesterday, the Prime Minister– who had been watching the games while she was on holidays – lauded the performance of Australia’s competitors.

“There’s a lot of pressure on people’s shoulders, many of them very young. But there’s so much to be proud of as we watch our athletes at the games,” Julia Gillard said.

Senator Lundy’s comments come after the head of Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, said that more attention should be given to schools, to help identify the next Cathy Freeman Ian Thorpe.

“The area [that] needs a lot of attention – and if not funding, government attention in terms of policy – is getting sport back on the school curricula,” he told ABC radio this morning.

“The British are making a big thing of that being one of the legacies that they are looking towards. They’ve been achieving that, not across the board, but a greater emphasis upon sport in the schools – and we need that because we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a talent pool.”

Senator Lundy’s comments also come as Australian athletes have hit back at media critics of silver medal performances.

Long jumper and silver medallist Mitchell Watt said there needed to be more understanding of how hard it was to win Olympic gold medals.

“The team’s happy, I’m happy, the head coach is happy. I’ve got thousands of messages back home that they are happy. The only people that aren’t happy are you guys. So you need to wake up,” he posted on Twitter.

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