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Australian tycoon Rinehart to give $10 mln to swimmers

SYDNEY (AFP) –

Aussie swimmers won just 1 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze in London, their lowest tally in the pool since the 1992 games

This file photo shows swimmers practicing during an open training session at the Susie O’neill pool, during the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, in 2007. Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart on Friday said she would splash out Aus$10 million to support the country’s leading swimmers, who are reeling from a poor Olympic campaign.

Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart on Friday said she would splash out Aus$10 million (US$10.4 million) to support the country’s leading swimmers, who are reeling from a poor Olympic campaign.

The announcement by Rinehart’s Georgina Hope Foundation comes a day after Swimming Australia chief Kevin Neil quit his post in the wake of the team’s disappointing showing in London — it’s worst Olympic meet in two decades.

“The foundation will focus on providing subsistence funding, squad funding, scholarship funding and performance funding,” foundation chairman Rinehart said in a statement issued by Swimming Australia.

From January, the foundation will support elite and targeted development swimmers, including athletes with a disability and open water competitors.

“Historically, Australian swimmers have performed exceptionally at Olympic, Paralympic, World Championships and the Commonwealth Games, and the foundation will ensure they have every opportunity to train and compete at the highest possible level,” Rinehart said.

Swimming Australia President Barclay Nettlefold said the scheme would give financial support for swimmers to strive for excellence “at a time where the swimming world has lifted the performance bar”.

While the final structure of the scheme had not been finalised, he said it would be “a performance-based tiered structure, and will include support for young up-and-coming swimmers as well”.

“As a result of the foundation, revenue from Swimming Australia’s commercial areas will now be freed up and be able to be directed into further assisting our leading coaches and member state associations,” he said.

Australia’s swimmers won just one gold, six silver and three bronze in London, their lowest tally in the pool since the 1992 Barcelona Games and their first without an individual gold medal since Montreal in 1976.

Earlier this month, Australian swimming officials announced an independent review of the sport’s culture at elite level after rumours of pranks and initiation rituals in London.

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