A call for an end to medal targets from legendary swimmer Ian Thorpe has received the backing of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and its President John Coates.
Thorpe, a five-time Olympic champion, said this week that targets placed undue pressure on athletes and freeing them of such stringent goals would help their performance at major events.
The 35-year-old Australian claimed it was “not beneficial when sporting organisations are talking about how many gold medals we’ll win at a competition”.
“Ian and the AOC are completely at one on this subject,” said Coates.
“In November 2016, the AOC Executive fully endorsed the position that no targets be set in our programme and funding guidelines for both Tokyo 2020 Summer Games and also this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.
“We actively stepped away from setting targets for the very reasons that Ian has rightly raised in recent days.
“Our focus should be on Australians engaging in sporting activity and seeking to fulfil themselves through sport.
“We certainly should focus on high performance and success will follow but we need to remind ourselves that success has many faces.”
Australian athletes have failed to meet medal targets at recent Olympic Games.
Before the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the AOC set a target of 13 gold medals in an overall tally of 37.
The Australian team returned from the Games in the Brazilian city with 29 medals, including eight golds.
It saw them finish 10th on the medals table, their lowest result in 24 years.
The country claimed three medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the same amount they achieved four years earlier in Sochi.
“In Pyeongchang, I believe Australians were immensely proud of the courage and skill displayed by our team, but equally the way they conducted themselves,” said Coates.
“With no targets set, the athletes were in the position to express themselves.
“Consequently, we equalled the number of medals won with three first time medal winners and we recorded more top six results than in any previous Games.”