Австралия / Australia

Australia have competed at every Olympic Games of the modern era, although in 1908 and 1912, they took part as Australasia alongside New Zealand.

They have also participated in every Winter Olympic Games since 1936.

Australians have made their mark on many Olympic sports, most notably in swimming. Ian THORPE won five gold medals in a career that spanned Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.

In total, he won nine medals in his Olympic career. Other big achievers in the pool include: Dawn FRASER, who won the 100m freestyle at three successive Games; Murray ROSE, a triple gold medallist at the 1956 Olympic Games; and Shane GOULD, who won three gold medals at Munich 1972 aged 15.

More recently, Kieren PERKINS won the men's 1500m freestyle title in 1992 and 1996, a feat emulated by Grant HACKETT in 2000 and 2004.

On the track, Australia's first Olympic champion was Edwin FLACK, who won the 1500m at the Athens 1896 Olympic Games.

Shirley STRICKLAND de la HUNTY won successive gold in the women's 80m hurdles and Marjorie JACKSON did the 100m and 200m sprint double in 1952. This feat was emulated by 18-year-old Betty CUTHBERT in 1956 and together they won further gold in the 4x100m relay.

CUTHBERT also won gold at 400m, eight years later in Tokyo. Herb ELLIOTT set a world record at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games to win the men's 1500m. Australia have also excelled in equestrian and won the team eventing gold on three successive occasions from 1992 to 2000.

The women's hockey team, known as the Hockeyroos won three gold medals at four Olympic Games from 1988 to 2000.

In rowing, Australia won back-to-back gold medals in 1992 and 1996 in the coxless four, which earned them the nickname Oarsome Foursome. Crew members James TOMPKINS and Drew GINN collected three gold medals in their careers.

At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Australian competitors won 58 medals (including 16 gold), spread across 20 sports.

At Athens 2004, they won 17 gold medals in their best performance overseas.

In Beijing 2008, swimmer Stephanie RICE won both medleys and also a gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay. All her gold medal swims set world records.

Two Australian cities have hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Long distance runner Ron CLARKE lit the Olympic cauldron in Melbourne in 1956 but, although he set a number of world records, he never won Olympic gold.

But perhaps the most memorable Australian track gold medal was won by Cathy FREEMAN. She lit the cauldron at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and under an enormous weight of expectation, came home to win the 400m.

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