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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK

Aussies bored of winning

By Kevin Darling
BBC Sport Online

One of the more predictable aspects of the 2002 Commonwealth Games has been the sight of Australians winning medals with breathtaking regularity.

Such is the nation's dominance of the medals table that one Australian newspaper is complaining that the Games are too easy.

The Daily Telegraph has made the novel suggestion that Aussie athletes should compete for their state of origin rather than their country.

For the rest of us, this begs the question of whether the super-competitive Australians are getting soft, or whether they've become even more arrogant.

According to the paper, the state of New South Wales alone had already bagged 20 medals by the end of Monday.

That total would put them third in the medals table.

State medal hauls
NSW: 20
Queensland: 14
Victoria: 12

Queensland and Victoria, with 14 and 12 gongs respectively, would currently hold the fourth and fifth spots had they competed separately.

This was before Ian Thorpe had even got his trunks wet.

The Telegraph, Australia's best-selling daily, thinks the Australian team should be broken down into states to give others more of a chance.

The newspaper points to the example of Great Britain, which splits into England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Guernsey and the Isle of Man during the Games.

However, there is a stumbling block to the tabloid's revolutionary idea, namely the constitution of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

The rulebook stipulates that the Games are open to: "Associations from Commonwealth countries, colonies, and dependent or associated territories of a Commonwealth country."

There is no mention of states of individual nations.

The paper points out that, under article 29, changes to the constitution can be made, providing two-thirds of the CGF's members give it their backing.

Australian team spokesman John Gatfield remains unconvinced by the Daily Telegraph's proposition.

He told Sport Online: "New South Wales might be able to hold their own in the Games, but smaller states like Tasmania and Northern Territories would miss out.

"When we compete as a nation, state rivalries are forgotten," he insisted.

It would certainly seem that the Australian press is using its sporting prowess as an opportunity to patronise, rather than invigorate, the Commonwealth Games also-rans.

Perhaps the paper's next step will be to tout the multi-gold-medal chasing "Thorpedo" as a separate country.


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