Australia to send 433 athletes to Beijing

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Australia will send its second-largest team of 433 athletes to an overseas Olympics for next month's Beijing Games, the AOC said on Friday.

Updated: July 23, 2008 18:21 IST
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Australia will send its second-largest team of 433 athletes to an overseas Olympics for next month's Beijing Games, the Australian Olympic Committee said on Friday.

Only the 482-member team which represented Australia at the 2004 Athens Games ranks larger, while the country's biggest team was assembled for the home 2000 Sydney Games with 632 athletes, the AOC said.

Australia, with a population of 21 million, is aiming to finish among the top five nations on the medals standings after finishing fourth in Sydney and Athens.

AOC director of sport Fiona de Jong said a top-five finish was achievable.

"It's going to be tough ... (but) our athletes will do us proud in Beijing," de Jong said.

De Jong said the main challenges for the Australian team would be medical problems and dealing with the heat and humidity in the Chinese capital.

"But we are used to operating in challenging conditions," she said.

The Australian athletes will be supported by a 75-strong medical contingent.

Rower James Tomkins will be competing at his sixth Olympics, while five others will be contesting their fifth Games -- shooters Michael Diamond and Russell Mark, kayaker Clint Robinson and cyclists Stuart O'Grady and Shane Kelly.

Equestrian Laurie Lever is the oldest member of the Australian team, making his Olympic debut at the age of 60, while swimmer Emily Seebohm is the youngest at 16 years, just a matter of weeks older than fellow swimmer Cate Campbell and diver Melissa Wu.

Rowing, which for the first time will field a boat in each of the 14 events, is the largest component of the Australian team with 48 members ahead of swimming (43) and track and field (40).

Three athletes in the 2008 Australian team have competed at previous Olympics for other countries -- Lalita Yauhleuskaya (shooting) for Russia, Maria Pekli (judo) for Hungary and Semir Pepic (judo) for the Slovak Republic.

A total of 43 athletes competing for Australia next month were born outside the country.

Three athletes are appealing against their omission from the team -- modern pentathlete Angie Darby, cyclist Chris Jongewaard and sprinter Patrick Johnson.

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