From the Australian Olympic Committee
BEIJING, August 7. 2007 - One year out and the final countdown is underway for Beijing 2008.
This is a pressure week for the Chinese Organizing Committee (BOCOG) with official test events underway.
With BOCOG facing the challenge of testing stadia and running smooth events, the world’s elite athletes will use the test events to gauge medal chances.
AOC President John Coates believes the test events are vital for Australia’s preparation.
“Test events provide our athletes, coaches and support staff with vital intelligence. We must be familiar with the weather conditions particularly the heat and the air quality,” Coates said. “We also need to be familiar with the venues, the transport, the landscape and the culture to do well at the Games next year”.
Australia’s young rowers have the honor of competing in the first official test event, the Junior World Rowing Championships at the Shunyi Rowing Venue.
Arriving in Beijing for this week’s Chef de Mission meeting, Coates headed straight for the Rowing venue to watch the Australians train.
Australia’s men’s and women’s hockey teams are also competing in test events along with our sailors at Qingdao and our equestrian riders at their venue at Shatin Racecourse in Hong Kong.
Three-time Olympic gold medalist, Andrew Hoy, who is striving to make a record seventh Olympic Games for Australia will be at the test event observing the venue and conditions. Shane Rose and Megan Jones will be the two Australian competitors.
Australia’s Equestrian and Sailing teams were both out of the medals at the 2004 Athens Games but have produced outstanding performances in the lead up to Beijing.
Australia is aiming to maintain its place in the top five nations on the overall medal tally. Australia was 4th at the Sydney Games with 58 medals and 4th again in Athens in 2004 with 49 medals.
"The AOC is hoping to qualify its biggest away team ever, somewhere around 500 athletes” Coates said. “This would make us the 3rd largest team at the Games behind China and the USA”.
“And we are aiming for another top five finish”. At the past two Olympics only the superpowers, USA, China and Russia, have won more medals than Australia.
Coates is wary of the host nation this time and believes the competition will be tougher.
"Who knows what China is capable of doing at a home Games? I think the test events over the coming months will reveal to the world that China is about to release a team of super-talented athletes with a desire to top the medal tally at these Games”.