Austria Hopes to Forget the Olympics

Austria’s disastrous performance in the summer Olympics has not gone unnoticed in the world where international wire agency Reuters has now put a spotlight on the total failure to get a medal.

Reuters reporter Michael Shields wrote that winter can’t come soon enough for Austrian sports fans who he said were lamenting a summer Olympics that has yet to produce a single medal.

Austria is used to raking in winter Olympic golds in Alpine skiing, its traditional strength, but still has not failed to win a summer medal since 1964.

Tabloid newspaper Oesterreich said: “With no medals, Austria faces the biggest Olympics bust in history. At the moment we are limping behind the washout of Tokyo in 1964.”

It added that Austria had many more fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishes nearly half a century ago.

After the men’s 49er sailors won the medal race but narrowly missed overall bronze on Wednesday, Austrian hopes boiled down to the final of the women’s pair canoe sprint, which features world champions Yvonne Schuring and Viktoria Schwarz.

It has been a star-crossed Games from the outset for Austria that has seen neighbouring Switzerland with a similar population size gain a gold and a silver so far.

First Heinz Jungwirth, head of the national Olympic committee for 26 years, was sentenced to five years in jail in July for embezzling more than 3 million euros ($3.7 million) from the organisation.

Then swimmer Markus Rogan seemed to question the intelligence of national skiing star Hermann Maier – winner of two Olympic golds.

“The best athletes are able to turn off their brain at the decisive moment. Maier could do this extremely well, better than I can,” Rogan said in an broadcast interview.

Rogan, who won two silver medals at the Athens Games, went on to be disqualified for an illegal turn in a medley in London.

Norbert Darabos, the minister for defence and sport, has promised action.

“I am going to put support of sports on a completely new footing. The current system suffices on average for three Olympics medals. We are too far removed from the world elite in summer,” he told a newspaper interviewer last week.

“The self-satisfaction of certain athletes here in London bothers me,” he added. “It is great when some athletes declare how beautiful life in the Olympic village is, but athletic success has to be the priority.”