Campaign Rio … Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates says it is “totally aligned” with the Australian Sports Commission. Photo: Brendan EspositoAustralian Olympic Committee president John Coates says the Australian Institute of Sport has finally ”put its neck on the line” and endorsed their ambitious goal of a top-five finish at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Key personnel at the AIS, including director Matt Favier, will take on roles with the Australian Olympic team as part of a ground-breaking partnership dubbed ”Campaign Rio”.

The AIS will work closely with the AOC and Australian Paralympic Committee in a bid to return Australia to the elite countries at the next Olympic Games in three years.

Australia’s disappointing return from last year’s London Olympic Games sparked the overhaul.

The 10th-place finish in the overall medal tally, with 35 medals, was Australia’s worst result since Barcelona in 1992.

That led to the creation of the Winning Edge high-performance strategy, which put the onus on individual sports to be more accountable for how they invest their funding.

With the federal government promising to maintain its $95 million budget for Olympic and Paralympic sports, Coates said it was integral to improve the effectiveness of how the funds were spent to keep pace with rival nations.

”It might have been a big step [for the AIS] a few years back before polices such as Winning Edge had come out and aligned themselves to our top-five target,” Coates said.

”In the past they had sort of sat back there and you wouldn’t have had any confidence in doing it.

”They didn’t have the same objectives. For some reason they noted our top five, but never endorsed it.

”They weren’t prepared to put their neck on the line, as they’ve done now.

”But now we’re totally aligned and I’m very confident this is the right thing to do.”

Favier will become the deputy chef de mission in charge of performance of the Australian Olympic team.

Other key AIS personnel to have roles with the Olympic team include chief medical officer Dr David Hughes and director of sports science Nick Brown.

”We had to do something to focus more on high performance,” Coates said.

”The way we were doing things, the informal partnerships we had between the AOC, the institutes and the national federations served us well up until the Beijing Games.

”But we’re competing against more money now. We have to be smarter and in the case of the AOC we’ve decided to focus more on high performance, to understand more what the coaches want and the institutes agreed to put their top people in our team rather than outside the tent.”

Australian Sports Commission chairman John Wylie said the partnership between the organisations was a natural progression to help give athletes the best possible preparation before the Olympic Games.

”It’s a long overdue review and tightening up of the system to make it more effective,” Wylie said.

”It’s time for the AIS to reinvent itself, and it’s doing that.

”We’re keen to kick it along again and make sure we’re at the cutting edge of world sport.”

To move back up the medal ladder, Coates pointed to swimming’s solitary gold medal in London and a need to cast a wider net among sports not normally Australia’s strength.

”I think we’ve had an over-dependence on swimming,” Coates said. ”We’ve got to have more sports that produce medal prospects.

”It mightn’t come for Rio, but I think the initiative of having a combat centre here [at the AIS] looking at boxing and judo are important initiatives that we need to pursue. You’ve got to have a very wide base of sports to have those results.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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