|2012 Olympic field hockey team Australia|
Australia isn't called the Land Down Under for nothing. In fact, because it's way down there, most countries have nothing in common with the people living there. For years it has been cut off from the rest of the world and the seasons are completely reversed from that of countries in most of the known world. Australia a totally different plant and animal life, with the people living densely in the coastal areas.
Having been no stranger to water, Australians have always made a splash in the Summer Olympic Games since they joined the first modern games in Athens. Australia has hosted the Summer Games twice, the last one in Sydney in 2000, placing fourth place overall. They also placed fourth four years later in Athens.
And although Australia placed sixth in Beijing, 2008, it is still a team to watch in London.
Country name: Australia
Population: 22,015,576 (July 2011 estimate)
Median Age: 37.7 years
Literacy: 99 percent
Land Area: 7,741,220 sq km (world's smallest continent, sixth largest country)
Best Summer Olympics Medal Haul:58 medals Sydney 2000 (16 gold, 25 silver, 17 bronze)
Notable Sports:Swimming, rowing, cycling, sailing, athletics
Other Notable Facts:
Although Australia is a big place, its territories are largely unpopulated. In fact, even if it is almost as big as the entire U.S. Mainland, the whole Australian population is only 22 million. This isn't a big number, considering that this is already about half the people of what most major cities have in many of the major countries around the world.
Anyway, the comparatively smaller number of Australians has resulted in more funding for their athletes and them having one of the highest Olympic medal per person ratios in the world (about one for every 50,000).
Australia remains to be a powerhouse swimming nation, and you can add other water events, such sailing, cycling and canoeing. On land, Australia is great in cycling, equestrian and track.
Notable Olympians: There are many great Australian Olympian,s but very few are well-known all over the world.
Among the few are:
Beth Cuthbert - Competed in the 100, 200 and 400 meters. She struck gold four times in Melbourne 1956 and Tokyo 1964.
Dawn Fraser - One of only two swimmers to win the same Olympic event three times. She won the 100m freestyle gold in three consecutive Olympic games (1956, 1960 and 1964). She also won a fourth gold with the 1956 4x100m freestyle team and won four silver medals total.
Cathy Freeman - A six-time gold medalist in the Commonwealth and World Championship Games is a specialist in the 400 meters. She won the silver in Atlanta 1996 and then finally the gold at Sydney 2000. Cathy is the first female Australian Aboriginal to represent and win a medal for her country.
Ian Thorpe - At the age of 14, she was the youngest male ever to represent Australia in an international competition. Ian isn't called the thorpedo for nothing. His Olympic swimming tally is nine medals, five golds in Sydney and Athens for the 200 and 400m freestyle and the 4x100 and 4x200m freestyle. Sadly, Ian failed to qualify for the London Games.
Among the Notable Olympians in London are:Sally Pearon (hurdles) - Silver medalist in Beijing 2008
Steve Hooker (pole vault) - Gold medalist in Beijing
Kookaburras and the Hockeyroos (men's and women's hockey teams) - Gold medalists in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens
Complete Profile List: 2012 Australian Olympic Team Athletes
Writer has enjoyed closely watching the Summer Olympics since the 1984 Games. He lives in the Los Angeles area but has lots of family and friends in Australia.
Originally published at Yahoo! US Sports in fulfillment of Yahoo! Contributor Network Olympic 2012 Country Profile Assignment.
Photo Credit: Delusion23, Wikipedia Commons