SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s chef de mission Kitty Chiller left no one in any doubt what standard of behavior she will expect from her team of just over 460 athletes when the Rio de Janeiro Olympics get underway a year on Wednesday.
The former modern pentathlete, the first woman to lead Australia into a Summer Games, pulled no punches as she made clear that there would be zero tolerance for misbehavior, illegal gambling or doping on her watch.
Furthermore, she gave warning to those Olympians in sports outside swimming that she expected them to step up to the plate so Australia could reach its “aspirational” target of a top-five finish on the medals table.
“It will not be easy,” she told reporters at a news conference to mark the one-year countdown to the Games.
“If we are going to get to the top five, the spread of medals needs to be greater. In Sydney, we won medals in 20 sports, in London it was across just 13.
“We’re hoping the swimmers will increase their medal haul from London but, if we’re to succeed in Rio, other sports need to step up.
“Equestrian, shooting, taekwondo, beach volleyball - they were all on the podium in Sydney and they all have genuine chances to be on the podium in Rio and we need them to be.”
Australia finished 10th on the medals table in London three years ago, a fall from sixth in Beijing in 2008 and fourth both in Athens in 2004 and on home soil in Sydney in 2000.
Chiller said she was confident no athlete in the team would embarrass their country by failing a dope test but removed any doubt about what would happen to them if they did.
“If you dope, if you cheat, we will name, shame and put you on the plane,” she added.
“The same goes for anyone on the team who falls for the temptation to get involved in illegal betting. That is also a short cut to the airport and a long flight home.”
Australia’s London disappointment — 35 medals was the worst performance since Barcelona 1992 — was accompanied by a crisis of team culture in the swimming team, which a later report said had become a “toxic” environment.
Chiller said respect for others would be at the heart of the team culture she was looking to foster and warned that transgressions would not be hidden or swept under the carpet.
“Everyone on this team going to Rio will know exactly what the expectations are of them as an Australian Olympian,” she said.
“Have fun, be a bit of a larrikin, that’s the Australian way, but show respect for your fellow athletes and for the performance environment we are creating.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury