Bobbie O'Leary

Golden run over, but Aussies can be proud

AUSTRALIAN Winter Olympics chef de mission Ian Chesterman said Australia was well set for the next Games in South Korea despite missing the target of a top-15 finish on the medal table in Sochi.

Australia finished in 23rd spot with two silvers (David Morris and Torah Bright) and a bronze (Lydia Lassila) for a total of three - the same number won four years ago in Vancouver, when the Aussies won two gold and silver.

"Medals are hard to win. Gold medals even harder," he wrote in a statement on the Australian Olympic Committee's website.

"Torah was just a fraction away - a quarter of one point - from another gold.

"Going into these Games we were five gold from a total of nine medals.

"That is a strike-rate that was the envy of nearly every other nation.

"After these Games our record is five gold from 12 medals - still almost 50% gold and still, in my opinion, a very impressive strike-rate.

"We came here hoping to finish in the top 15 nations on the medal tally; it was always a stretch target.

"Did we fail? No. Three medals and a host of top-five, eight and 16 results is still a remarkable achievement for a developing winter sport country.

"Did we aim too high, no.

"If you don't strive you won't achieve. Low targets are easy to get, but won't create a culture of high performance.

"We had 43 first-time Olympians out of a team of 60 athletes. Over 70% of the team were rookies. Many will be back, better for the experience."

Chesterman said the AOC needed to look to the future in terms of Winter Olympics facilities.

"The Ice House in Melbourne has been a fantastic addition, but we desperately need the water jump facility to be built in NSW," he added. "It should have been built after Vancouver in time for Sochi - let's not let it slip again.

"We also need the half-pipe at Perisher. Hopefully this gets the go-ahead very soon as well."

The Games finished in style yesterday with a dramatic and spectacular closing ceremony.

On the last day of competition, Canada defended its men's ice hockey gold medal with a 3-0 win over Sweden.

Captain Sydney Crosby, who scored the overtime winning goal in Vancouver four years ago, scored one of the goals in the victory.

In the four-man bobsleigh, Russia won gold and ended the Games on top of the medal table with 13 golds, 11 silver and nine bronze.

Norway was second with 11 gold, five silver and 10 bronze, with Canada third on 10 gold, 10 silver and five bronze.

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