Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Australia plans to send 433 athletes to Olympics

AFP , SYDNEY

Australia will send its second-largest team of 433 athletes to an overseas Olympics for next month’s Beijing Games, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said yesterday.

Only the 482-member team that represented it at the 2004 Athens Games ranks larger, while the country’s biggest team was assembled for the home 2000 Sydney Games with 632 athletes, the AOC said.

Australia is aiming to finish among the top five nations on the medals standings after finishing fourth in Sydney and Athens.

AOC director of sport Fiona de Jong said a top-five finish was achievable.

“It’s going to be tough ... [but] our athletes will do us proud in Beijing,” de Jong said.

De Jong said the main challenges would be medical problems and dealing with the heat and humidity in the Chinese capital.

“But we are used to operating in challenging conditions,” she said.

Australia will also send a 75-strong medical contingent.

Bookmakers are favoring Australia to win between 13 and 15 gold medals and 41 to 50 medals in all.

Australia achieved its best Olympic Games gold medal haul in Athens with 17 in 2004, while the country’s best overall tally of medals was 58 at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Three of the athletes have competed at previous Olympics for other countries — Lalita Yauhleuskaya (shooting) for Russia, Maria Pekli (judo) for Hungary and Semir Pepic (judo) for the Slovak Republic.

A total of 43 athletes competing for Australia next month were born outside the country.

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