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AOC eyes Asian rivals

By Sharon Mathieson 16/11/2004 08:17:09 PM Comments (0)

They saying goes you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is taking the advice to heart, urging sporting federations to spend more than $8 million to send athletes to China in the lead-up to the 2004 Olympics.

Japan is looming as the greatest threat to knock Australia out of the top five nations on the medal tally at the Beijing Games while China is threatening to take medals from Australia.

The AOC believes the best way to stay ahead of the rising Asian nations and stop China from overtaking Australia in sports like swimming is to keep a close eye on their preparations.

At a high performance sports forum in Canberra, AOC director of sport Craig Philips announced $17.8 million in funding for 2008 Olympic preparations.

He said $8.2 million would go to national sporting federations to spend on international competition, $4.6 million was for medallists and their coaches and $5 million would be spent on the 2005 and 2007 Youth Olympic Festivals.

Philips said the AOC wanted sporting federations to use their competition grants in China.

"You've got to be connected up there, you've got to be part of the system, you've got to be able to hook into what they've got available to you," he said.

"It's something we didn't do leading into Seoul.

"This time around we're hopeful athletes will be comfortable with the Asian culture, the Chinese culture in particular, and understanding the city and what they're going to be competing in."

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