Montreal 1976: No Gold for Australia
From a medal perspective – and as suggested in this excerpt from the Seven Network's World of Sport: Sport '76 wrap-up – Montreal was perhaps the lowest point in Australia's Olympic history.
The team of 184 athletes returned from the event without a single gold medal – and with the lowest medal tally at an Olympic Games since Los Angeles in 1936.
Given how closely Australian national identity is linked to our sporting success, the poor result catalysed a restructuring of Australian sports, including many administrative steps to improve elite and state-based sports programs across the country.
Perhaps the most significant of these initiatives was establishing the Australian Institute of Sport, now one of world’s leading training facilities.
Despite its emphasis on lack of medals, this World of Sport clip also shows the athletes to be a diverse and robust group. The Australians competed in most of the events – and with proper support, many would soon prove their ability at the highest levels.
The clip includes coverage of the men's hockey team campaign. The team entered the finals as favourites but just lost out to New Zealand 1–0.
We also see shots of one of the great Australian hopes, Stephen 'Super Fish' Holland winning bronze in the 1500m freestyle.
Sailors Ian Brown and Ian Ruff won bronze in yachting's 470 class, with John Bertrand third in the Finn class. Bertrand later skippered the racing yacht Australia II in Australia's successful 1983 America's Cup campaign.
The great runner Raelene Boyle finished fourth in the 100m sprint but was sadly disqualified in the 200m sprint for making two false starts.
Finally, in Equestrian, the three-day eventing team – consisting of Bill Roycroft (a five-time Olympian and the oldest competitor at Montreal), his son Wayne, Denis Pigott and Merv Bennett – won bronze.
Montreal was the first colour broadcast of an Olympics on Australian television sets, following the switch to colour broadcasting on 1 March 1975.
The segment’s carefully worded commentary speaks directly to the images on screen, at times allowing the images – and snippets of the original audio commentary – to play out.
In addition to its wonderful synopsis of the Olympic Games that year, the production also helps to showcase the advancements in film technology and the style of sports broadcasting of mid-1970s Australia.