Australia's swimmers must be fearless at Rio: Bertrand

Fri May 20, 2016 5:13am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's swimmers must live in a world of "no fear" as they head to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics under pressure to make amends for the flop in the London Games pool, according to Swimming Australia boss John Bertrand.

Australia has long relied on its swimmers to set a medal-winning platform for the entire team at the Olympics but the nation that produced Dawn Fraser and Ian Thorpe won only a single title at London.

The worst medal haul in 20 years sparked recrimination back home and led to a series of reviews that found evidence of bullying, drunkenness and the abuse of prescription drugs by some team members.

After having its funding cut by the Australian government for failing to meet governance standards, Swimming Australia has overhauled its coaching regime and worked hard to repair the sport's image.

Impressive results have followed in the wake of the culture change and the team heads to Rio on a high after posting some outstanding times at national trials last month.

But it will all count for little if the results do not come when it matters, said Bertrand, who won a sailing bronze at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

"Absolutely. But we’ve got to be in the world of no fear," the 69-year-old told Reuters in an interview in Melbourne.

"There are two sports which are fundamental to the psyche of this nation. The Australian test cricket team whenever we take on the Brits (England) in the Ashes and the Australian swim team every four years at the Olympics.   Continued...

Members of the Australian Olympics swimming, diving and water polo teams pose for a photograph with their newly-unveiled Rio Olympic Games competition and training swimwear in Southport on Australia's Gold Coast, May 13, 2016.   AAP/Dan Peled/via REUTERS