SPORTS

Australia plans biggest-ever team for 2004

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia is planning to send its largest away team of 475 athletes to this year’s Olympics, the Australian Olympic Committee said yesterday. AOC Vice President and four-time Olympian Peter Montgomery said the Athens team would number more than the 424 athletes who competed in Atlanta in 1996, and the 292 in Barcelona in 1992. The team to Athens will be accompanied by 300 coaches, doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, chiropractors, massage therapists and dieticians, Montgomery said yesterday. «Arranging to take a team of this size to an Olympic Games is a massive job and the AOC is determined that our athletes be given every opportunity to perform their best,» he said. «The AOC is committed to sending a full team to Athens. Our president, John Coates, has given an undertaking that any athlete who achieves the qualifying standard in their sport and is nominated by their sport to the AOC is guaranteed a seat on the plane to Athens.» Montgomery said the AOC was aiming for a top-five finish in Athens. At the 2000 Sydney Games, Australia won a record 58 medals, 16 gold, 25 silver, 17 bronze, and finished fourth on the overall medal tally. Montgomery said the various Olympic sporting teams will be announced over the coming months and many will head to Europe and other destinations to acclimatize to the heat with temperatures in Athens expected to reach 40 Celsius (104F) in August.