AUSTRALIA’S woeful Olympics medal tally is due to its residents’ disdain for any activity that emphasises the physical over the mental, it has been claimed.
The nation’s lack of concern for putting one over on other countries, particularly Britain, is another key factor.
Internationalist Nikki Hollis said: “Most nations would be smarting with humiliation at their resoundingly abysmal record in these games but not the Australians, an enigmatic people dedicated to the life of the mind who rarely travel outside their own shores.
“Until 1996, ‘rough sports’, a category which included rugby, surfing and cricket, were specifically banned in the Australian constitution as it was feared that they may distract young people from their studies of vers libre, dodecaphonic composition and ethnological art.
“Under protest from their own citizens, the government partly repealed these laws but only to introduce Australian Rules Football, a watered down version of the game which, according to those who have played it is ‘more like a mixture of chess and expressive dance’.
“Given how much the average young Australian male would far prefer to engage you in a discussion on the finer points of Mallarmé or Euripides than bandy remarks on uncouth ball games, it is hardy astonishing that they have won such a pitiful number of medals.”
Australian ex-pat Bill McKay said: “Being a sports fan in Australia is incredibly lonely. There’s more to life than the intellect but try telling that to the average bloke in New South Wales.
“Take swimming. We could be good at it but it’s impossible to swim and read at the same time – you just end up going in circles. And you can’t get an Aussie to put their book down, even in the water.”
Joanna Kramer, a self-confessed ‘Australophile’, said: “I think we British could learn a lot from Australia. What is sport, they say, compared with the arts and the crafts, macrame, ceramics, flower arranging?
“To them, physical competition and noisy collective celebration are as insignificant as the number of medals they have won in these Olympics.”