Aussies aim to deliver day-one gold - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aussies aim to deliver day-one gold

By Mike Hedge 13/08/2004 05:44:03 AM Comments (0)

Australia's biggest overseas Olympic team on Saturday begins its bid to become the most successful ever to leave home.

And it will be a case of opening up with the big guns when competition gets underway at the Athens' Games.

If things go as well as expected, day one could be one of the best for Australia.

Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett will churn up the pool, Irina Lashko will dive into it and half of the old Oarsome foursome will begin their bid for a comeback gold in the men's rowing pairs.

On the shooting range Michael Diamond gets cracking with the defence of the trap shooting titles he won in Atlanta and Sydney and defending beach volleyball champions Kerri-Anne Pottharst and Natalie Cook start a new bid for gold, but with new partners.

Australia also has a strong hand in the opening day of cycling competition with Robbie McEwen and his Tour de France colleagues Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke and Michael Rogers being joined by Matthew White for a gold medal bid in the road race.

After 16 golds and a record 58 medals in Sydney four years ago, expectations are more conservative for Athens.

The first target is 10, a total that would surpass the effort achieved in Atlanta in 1996, which stands as Australia's best "away" performance at an Olympics.

Day one, however, is also set to produce one of the major obstacles to Australia reaching that goal.

Michael Phelps, the successor to Thorpe's "king of the pool" crown, lines up for the first of a possible seven gold medals.

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