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Australia’s Tokyo Olympics 2020 ends with final medal tally of 17 gold, 7 silver and 22 bronze


The curtain has come down on Australia’s terrific Tokyo Olympics campaign with a final medal tally of 17 gold, seven silver and 22 bronze.

Track cycling finals for Matthew Glaetzer and Annette Edmondson ended Australia’s program on Sunday as about 70 athletes prepare to march behind flagbearer Mat Belcher at the closing ceremony.

Whether it was the extra year, the relative absence of expectation, thoughts of Australians stuck at home in lockdown, the whiff teammates’ triumphs or even Brisbane 2032, there is no doubt Tokyo 2020 was a huge success.

“It’s such a complicated answer,” Australia’s chef de mission Ian Chesterman conceded, adding that a holistic approach to Games village life may have contributed.

Chesterman, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and sporting bodies may never distil the secret but there was something undeniably remarkable and rousing about their charges’ performance at Tokyo 2020.

The gold medal count, which remains the go-to Games metric despite the AOC opting to stop medal forecasts in response to athlete feedback after regrettable Rio de Janeiro results, suggests it equalled Australia’s best Olympics.

Midway through the 14th of 17 days in Tokyo, Australia surpassed its Sydney 2000 haul and drew level with its all-time benchmark of 17 golds at Athens 2004.

Emma McKeon and fellow swimmers claimed nine gold medals; more than Australia’s entire Olympic team managed at each of London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Australia ranked sixth on the medal table, with a teary Chesterman applauding his team for feeling “comfortable being in the uncomfortable” amid disruptions and doubt that cloaked the first-ever delayed Olympics.

Chesterman delighted in other statistics – 46 medals from 15 sports, 59 per cent of medallists on Olympic debut, and 118 Australians finishing fourth or fifth across individual and team events.

“I’d give it an 11,” he said, asked to rate the Games out of 10.

Every Olympian – here and abroad – told a different story of how the coronavirus pandemic affected their preparation.

Swimmers Emily Seebohm, Kaylee McKeown, Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon, Ariarne Titmus and Izaac Stubblety-Cook with their medal haul.
Swimmers Emily Seebohm, Kaylee McKeown, Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon, Ariarne Titmus and Izaac Stubblety-Cook with their medal haul. Credit: Getty

Alex de Minaur, understandably devastated after his last-minute positive coronavirus test, was burdened by the pandemic more than any other of almost 500 Australian Olympians.

Fortress Australia meant the country went unrepresented in synchronised diving events at these Games, while shooters and others lacked international competition for 18 months.

However, the Kookaburras went within a whisker of their first men’s hockey gold medal since 2004 despite lacking rivals’ tune-ups.

And a gold rush in the pool arguably reflected, among other things, the relative normality that many Australians enjoyed compared to counterparts during the past 18 months.

Harder to quantify is the impact of camaraderie in the athletes village, which by all accounts was of a genuine level that surpassed Oi-Oi-Oi cliches – and certainly that of the past two Games.

“I’ve never felt so supported,” Taliqua Clancy said after her silver medal in beach volleyball.

Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy with their silver medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy with their silver medals at the Tokyo Olympics. Credit: Elsa/Getty Images



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