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Australia’s athletic team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games: one of its worst performances?

By Chris Lewis - posted Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Recent Commonwealth Games athletics results (1998-2014) indicate that Australia's performance continues to decline.

While England too found it hard to win gold medals in 2014 when compared to past Commonwealth Games, table 1 indicates that Australia's 2014 team won just nine medals (six gold) individual events, far below the 27 medals (10 gold) achieved in 1998.

Table 1: Total top 8 (T8) Individual Athletics finishes and medals (M) won (golds in brackets) Commonwealth Games 1998-2014.


In terms of running events, Australia's 2014 team won just 3 medals (2 gold) compared to 10 medals (3 golds) in 1998.

Further, Australia had no male or female finalist in either the 100, 200m or 400m sprints, a feat perhaps unprecedented at the Commonwealth Games level.

Perhaps this explains why Australia's relay teams performed so poorly in terms of times in 2014, amongst the slowest major championship times for many decades. The mens 4x400m team ran 3:04.19, compared to the Australian record of 2:59.70 (1984), and the womens 4x400m team 3:30.27, much slower than the Australian best of 3:23.81 (2000). The 1972 womens 4x400m OG team ran 3:28.8.

Table 2: Total top 8 (T8) individual running finishes and medals (M) won (golds in brackets) Commonwealth Games 1998-2014.


Australia's field athletes did reasonably well, but they too have declined in terms of medals won. In 2014, Australia won six medals (four gold), well behind the 1998 result of 17 medals (7 gold).

Table 3: Total top 8 field (T8) and multi-event finishes, and medals (M) won (golds in brackets) Commonwealth Games 1998-2014.

Australia remains a Commonwealth Games superpower, but presently finds it that much harder to win medals in athletics, despite considerable public funds being allocated.

Let the arguments begin as to why Australia is in serious decline, and what to do. Solutions are not easy given that England has also experienced some decline in terms of medals won, despite substantial funding and perhaps a greater interest by Brits in the sport.

Or should we just enjoy the athletics and celebrate a greater diversity of results?

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About the Author

Chris Lewis, who completed a First Class Honours degree and PhD (Commonwealth scholarship) at Monash University, has an interest in all economic, social and environmental issues, but believes that the struggle for the ‘right’ policy mix remains an elusive goal in such a complex and competitive world.

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