By Duncan Mackay

John Coates in front of AOC logo and Olympic ringsApril 12 - Australia's swimmers have been backed by John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to put their troubles behind them and bounce back as a major force at Rio 2016.

Australia's swimmers won just one Olympics gold medal at London 2012, six silver and three bronze in London, their lowest tally in the pool since Barcelona 1992, and were without an individual gold medalist for the first time since Montreal in 1976.

The sport was also scandalised when it confirmed that initiation rituals involving prescription drugs at a pre-Games training camp in Manchester on the eve of London 2012 had wrecked Australia's preparations.

Leigh Nugent, Australia Swimming's head coach since 2009, was fired as a result of the scandal and the poor performance at London 2012 and has been replaced by Michael Scott, Britain's former performance director. 

"While much has been made of our swimmers' performance, behaviour and the governance of the sport, swimming has been by far the major contributor to our Olympic medal tally and the sport deserves our full support," said Coates in his President's Review in the AOC's annual report published today. 

"We remain confident that our swimmers can return to the top few nations in Olympic competition".

Australia London 2012 Opening CeremonyAustralia's performance at London 2012 was their worst since Barcelona 1992

Australia slipped to tenth overall on the medals rankings at London 2012, with lowest for 20 years, as they won 35 medals, seven of them gold. 

The AOC is hoping to send a team of 480 athletes to Rio, including the new sports of golf and rugby sevens, which would the biggest squad they have ever sent to an overseas Games. 

Coates has also set them the target of finishing in the top five again, a position they have not achieved since Athens 2004. 

"Our objective again is to finish in the top five nations on the gold and overall medal standings and I am pleased that the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) shares this target in Australia's Winning Edge 2012-2022 plan released by ASC Chairman, John Wylie last December," he said.

"I fully support the thrust of Winning Edge with its unapologetic emphasis on producing champions".

To read the full President's Review pdfclick here.

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