‘I’d Get Better Blocks In Denmark’ Says Aussie Matt Abood; Has AIS Lost ‘Winning Edge’?

(L-R) Coach Richard Scarce, swimmers Ashley Delaney, Matthew Abood and Cameron McEvoy of Australia at world titles last year - by Patrick B. Kraemer

World-Class Athletes are out, blazers and bureaucrats are in: that’s the overall impression given in a report by the Australian Daily Telegraph and Courier Mail that starts with these stark words: “Australia’s million dollar sporting factory is standing idle just 10 weeks out from the Rio Olympics. The Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra has just one Olympic-bound full-time resident on the eve of the Games.” Matt Abood says bureaucracy blocked his path to the starting blocks that he’ll need to know come the big one Rio.

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World-Class Athletes are out, blazers and bureaucrats are in: that’s the overall impression given in a report by the Australian Daily Telegraph and Courier Mail that starts with these stark words: “Australia’s million dollar sporting factory is standing idle just 10 weeks out from the Rio Olympics. The Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra has just one Olympic-bound full-time resident on the eve of the Games.” Matt Abood says bureaucracy blocked his path to the starting blocks that he’ll need to know come the big one Rio.



Can’t the Aussies themselves see what’s the most obvious explanation here?

It’s the AIS location.

Unless you have no other choice, why would anyone want to live in Canberra?

Relocate or build completely new AIS campus and facilities (I know, most can’t be moved) to Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, and you’ll solve the problem.


The Australian Olympic Swim team always under-performs. Don’t expect a high medal tally.


Historically, Australian swimmers won around 30% less golds than the total number of their no. 1 rankings going into the Olympics.

In 2012, their no. 1 rankings were Magnussen and men 4×100. They won 1 gold.
In 2008, their no. 1 rankings were: w50 free, w100free, m50free, m100free, w100breast, w100breast, w200IM, w4x100medley, w100fly. They won 6 golds.

Lawrie Cox

Please see the comments and investigation for what it is. In case we don’t perform on the night need to be able to point to a failure in the system. In this case the preparations are well under way; medal count doesn’t reach the expectations then it will be the fault of the AIS.
I am not saying that they are not in some part of the issue but remember the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Olympic Committee must be forefront and accept the responsibility. No doubt if the medal count is high the elbows will be swinging to claim the credit in the media.


Right now, the Aussies are ranked #1 in around 10 events: w50 free, w100free, w100back, w200back, w4x100medley, m100free, m200free, m400free, m100back, m200back.
By the time US trials finishes, I expect the number to be reduced to 6 or 7 events.
So, based on historical average, the Aussies would win around 4 golds. 5 if they are lucky.


Here’s the 4 golds with greater possibility for the Aussies: w50free, w100free, m100free, m200back.
They’d do poor if they win less than that, and they’d be lucky if they win more.

Craig Lord

p1robi – expect is the key word there. There are times when that has been so but not ‘always’ unless we simply take an expectation and say ‘not met’, regardless of how sensible that expectation was. It might also be said that it out-performs its size, time and time again.


aswimfan, there is the 4×100 free women, just a disaster can take the gold out of Australia..


I totally forgot about the w4x100 free lol.


I think Lawrie’s summation is right on the money. The AIS was set up as a response to the Montreal debacle ….. something that would NOT happen now & there would not be the public support for doing so these days.

What people need to realise that it is NOT purely Canberra centric. Admin & sports science may be but the following major programs are centred elsewhere:

– sailing/Sydney
– hockey/Perth
– diving/Brisbane
– cycling/Adelaide
– winter sports/Melbourne.

With regards to swimming; the AIS squad has changed complexion over the years. Over time, it has often seen certain specialist coaches ( in a particular stroke) with a result a number of leading swimmers in that discipline gravitating there. Should this program be subject to review … of course but the discussion needs to be rational rather than knee-jerk.

Craig Lord

I’m sure that’s right, CW and Lawrie – and just as the AIS could not claim a winning result team wide for AUS swimming, it would be woefully off balance to suggest that it shoulder any blame for a poor result in the sense that so much work goes on beyond that immediate environment and very little of it in swimming is Canberra based. From a distance, there seems to be healthy room for debate on the issues of “sports leadership” – what is it and what is it achieving Vs what could it achieve; and what’s the best way of using the AIS and the benefits it can bring. Some of the issues in play may well sound familiar in other parts of the world. The debate could be a very healthy thing but only if it heads in a serious direction with constructive outcomes in mind and not political agendas to the fore. From afar, it does sound like Canberra is, well, ‘underused’ in terms of playing a permanent role in the bulk of Australian swimming success – apart from camps and test moments, what is that pool used for an how often but national team members?

kevin roose

Australia Gold opportunities: Womens 4 x100 medly …..would you bet against Cate Campbell last 100?
Mens 4 x100 free : Magnussen , Roberts, Chalmers and Mcevoy ….
Seebohm 100 back ….wont win the 200


Even with Cate to anchor, Australia can say goodbye to gold or even silver in w4x100medley if Mckeon and Bohl can’t split 56.5 and 1:05.50
Don’t believe me? See Kazan results.

Men 4x100free, Australia have to make sure they qualify to final first. And then, just like in London, the key is with Magnussen. If Magnussen can swim sub 48, Australia have a chance for gold. But if it’s still Magnussen from the Aussie trials, Australia can say bye bye to any medal.


Since most of Aussie swimming talent come from Queensland, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to base AIS swimming campus in Brisbane?


I realize they have seriously underperformed in recent years, but I really hope that Australia this time will prevail in the 4x200m freestyle men relay. Ditto Japan and Great Britain. We really need change in this race.


aswimfan, not just Mag, but if Mag and Roberts deliver the same splits from London at Rio.. bye bye to Aus..

Who Australia took for the 4×100? They took 2 alternates? Abbod and Stockwell?


Not necessarily, ASF. WHERE precisely would you locate it or would you need to build a new facility ? Its the climate rather than necessarily the quality of the pools themselves.

Who would you put in charge & how many elite swimmers would necessarily gravitate to it ? These swimmers are spread all around the SE Queensland sprawl from Sunshine Coast to effectively the NSW border and all around the Brisbane metropolitan area.

Kevin, Rafael & ASF, re M4X100 I think it would need Maggie sub48 to medal and furthermore either Roberts or Abood to do so on top of Chalmers (Rafael, Stockwell won’t be on the plane). For gold, you would need Maggie to be at 47low which is essentially talking his level 4 years ago.

Much will depend on who they put off the gun and what they can produce as this will be the hardest leg to actually break 48. Do you front end load with McEvoy & hope to hold on ? Are any of the others likely to produce a sub48 off the gun ?

They are certainly a potential medal but on the score of “liklihood”, realistically they are a couple of tiers down from the best chances. Gold ….. could happen but would realistically need everything to go right.


Maybe going with MacEvoy – Magnussen -Roberts/Abood – Chalmers?

or the reverse:
Chalmers – Magnussen – Roberts/Abood – MacEvoy

If Magnussen has the quiet confident a la 2011, he can lead off, otherwise second leg is perfect for him. MacEvoy has to be last or first. Chalmers can be anywhere really. His relay performances so far have been almost perfect.


AIS swimming centre can be incorporated and added into Gold Coast CG swimming facilities.


Sorry, ASF, but think again. Gold Coast CG facilities are only a cosmetic upgrade on the existing facility that hosted 2015 Pan Pacs ……. and there will be no permanent roof.

Chandler is the best part of 35 years old; the rest are outdoor facilities where the various clubs/podium centres pay rent to the local government who own them.


Based on the Aussie trials, there is a big chance both Bohl & McKeon will split those times, especially McKeon, very easily. I also expect them to improve dramatically.
Bohl, was not in Kazan & was said wanted to give swimming away a year or 2 ago, so only now, hence see her improvement over past 2 years.
McKeon swims got worse in Kazan & she really now has the confidence in herself as shown in Aussie trial with 3 PBs, I expect Mckeon to swim really well in RIO.

Now the challenge is not whether the Aussie swimmers are good enough, with 2 huge bookends & very strong middle legs they are huge chance for gold. The challenge will come from the Chinese (won’t know till RIO) & the US (after the trials). Both will need to be considerably better then the Aussie middle legs.


Cannot disagree on men’s 4×100, much will depend Magnussen & Roberts, if they don’t fire, no chance. If Roberts doesn’t swim the relay & Abood does, no chance for gold, medal is best outside chance. Abood is at best a low 48, very high 47 relay swimmer, but Roberts trial time can get a mid 47 relay split.

Very risky prospect, all has to go right, but if it does, will be hard to beat as Chalmers will improve & McEvoy at present untouchable.


Rob, pretty much in agreement. Would only say that whilst Abood doesn’t have the possible upside of Roberts; he has at least proven that he is reliable and will perform at/near his level in the big meets.

This is something that, to date, Roberts has failed to accomplish. Methinks the call regarding the final line-up will hinge on who was the more satisfactory in the heats.

kevin roose

Aswimfan Mckeon and Bohl are both capable of doing the times you have suggested , this will be a break out meet for Mckeon at very worst Australia will get silver . Who is there America they dont have a sprinter China who else ?

kevin roose

Yes you are right everythink will need to click on the night for Australia to win the 4 x 100 free relay mens but they are hungary and want to make amends for London .There is a burning desire in Roberts and Magnussen , Abood wont swin the final forget about that ok .Chalmers and McEvoy will scorch the field , Chalmers is the next big thing in mens sprinting …..

kevin roose

Historically yes the bulk of the Australian swim team come from Queensland …..and yes why would they want to train in Canberra .Queensland has some of the best coaches residing there and glorious weather ideal for thoses early mornnig starts.
On gold medal opportunities i am not writing off Horton he will be in the mix for the 400/1500 ….Kazan lessons learnt ….


Not sure if the problem here is really Aussie-specific. The Americans over the years have taken stabs at resident national teams over the years and none of those have really stuck either. (Though Colorado Springs remains a popular altitude training camp site)

It could be once a country reaches a certain critical level of both quality and quantity in a sport, it’s better to just leave athletes scattered around the country most of the year in high quality clubs with varying training philosophies rather than trying to cram everyone together in the same aquatic shoebox.


CL, help me please………….
Suits are making the technical decisions? while coaches are absent?

Craig Lord

Yes, it very much sounds like that, pegasus. In the discussion so far, I haven’t seen a single coach leadership name from swimming being called to the table on this. That’s not to say they haven’t or won’t but worth watching…

Craig Lord

Yes, beachmouse. How to use centres and who controls the water space are among questions that apply far and wide.


Coaches will go ……. wherever and to whomever will pay the $$$$ that will put the food on their families dinner table and pay the bills. That may mean changing clubs, taking a NCAA position …… or an overseas national team.

Case in point, Matt Brown was having great success at Nudgee but he lost right of access to the Nudgee College pool which meant his swimmers needed to find new “homes” and a new position for himself … eventually one in Victoria.

As for the AIS situation, yes there should be review of that program (as with any other); but those throwing barbs do have some selectively short memories. Up till recent times; the AIS squad also included the likes of Hocking & Coutts.

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