Michael Cowley August 05, 2012
Leigh Nugent has been under scrutiny for Australia's lack of gold in the pool at London. Photo: Steve Christo
Having openly stated his goal coming into the London Games was to finish second on both the gold and overall medal tallies, only to see his team finish with one gold and sixth in the standing, it's not surprising there has been talk about the future of head coach Leigh Nugent.
In reality it is just talk. He signed a new contract in February which will take him through to the Rio Olympics in 2016, and while the results in London will be looked upon as disappointing - although the team did tie with China for second in overall medals with 10, behind the USA's 30 - Nugent will be safe, even though he wasn't exuding confidence.
"It's up to other people to determine that," Nugent said when asked about the safety of his position. "I'm going to do the job I feel I can do and if someone feels I should go, then moves would be put in place I would think, if there were enough who thought that."
Former national coach Don Talbot - a noted hard task master - even suggested during the week Nugent was too nice a guy for the position.
"I'm not sure it's a compliment or a criticism," Nugent said. "Don and I have had a relationship for a long time. I value his comments but nice guys can make tough decisions."
Nugent said he felt the team rallied on the final night of competition to win silver and bronze in the two medley relays, which he felt was a good result.
On the medal tallies, he added: "Ten medals for us - only one gold out of that is disappointing - but I think from what we can see there was spread of medals across our events, and our relays have held us in stead here and that indicates to me there is depth in the team and we have got something to build on going from now to Barcelona (world titles) next year."
As to how long he feels it will take for Australia to return back to a more lofty position in the swimming world, he said: "Look, everything takes time. It started to turn around a couple of years ago.
"I know when Don started with our team in '89, it took to almost 2000 to get it where he wanted it, and in 2001 he did (when Australian finished as the number one nation at the world titles). For us, we are not coming from that low ebb. We have some good base there and time will tell but we've started to plan for that development phase and we've got to look at some of the things that have maybe not helped us get the result here."
It was also suggested that the Olympic trials may be held too far away from the Games. Australia had their trials in March, while the US had their's in early July.
"It's very hard for us because we have got to prepare through the winter with virtually no competition at all. We would have to recreate our whole calendar," Nugent explained. "They (US) are preparing in the summer where there is lots of (long course) competition going, and we're in a winter that is short course.
"To come off that short preparation ... we tried it once for Commonwealth Games and no one was happy with it."