July 5 (Reuters) - Australia’s swimming team will set its sights on closing the gap on the United States by “pinching” more medals from them at this month’s Tokyo Games, head coach Rohan Taylor said.
The United States finished first in the swimming event at the 2016 Rio Games after winning a total of 33 medals, including 16 golds. Australia came second, with 10 medals, three of which were gold.
“The Americans have a target because they’re the proven performers at the Olympics,” Taylor said on Monday. “They are the number one - we’re trying to pinch as many as we can from them and we need to prove ourselves.
“They (the U.S.) have got predictions that they will win all the female events - that’s great if they think that. It’s up to us to take those medals from them and we plan on trying to have a crack at it.”
Taylor said Australia’s performance in Tokyo will not be affected by twice Olympic silver medallist Madeline Groves’ complaint of “misogynistic perverts” in the sport.
Groves withdrew from Australia’s swimming trials for the Olympics last month, saying her decision should be a lesson to “perverts ... and their boot lickers” who exploit, body-shame and “medically gaslight” young women and girls.
In response to her complaint, Swimming Australia (SA) said it would set up an all-female panel to investigate the experience of women and girls in the sport.
“(SA chief executive) Alex Baumann and the executive are really managing that space,” Taylor said. “For us internally, I work(ed) with the athlete leaders for the last 12 months in preparing the team environment and working on that.
“So they (team leaders) are the eyes and ears and everybody is focused on these Olympics, that is absolutely what is happening here.
“We’re enjoying being together as a team ... if anything were to pop up, I would be aware of that - and it hasn’t.” (Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)