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The Top 10 Greatest Australian Olympic Moments Of All-Time Have Been Named And Ranked

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The Top 10 Greatest Australian Olympic Moments Of All-Time Have Been Named And Ranked

By Ryan Rosendale

Australia has long been an Olympic powerhouse with many of the country's greatest athletes giving show-stealing performances with each passing Games.

Whether it be in the pool, on the track or as a team, the Aussies have always created moments that have stood the test of time.

Here, we count down the top 10 Australian Olympic moments of all time.

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And while there have already been some great achievements by Aussies at Tokyo, this list does not include those...

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

10. Jane Saville walks back from Sydney heartbreak - 2004 Athens Olympic Games

Australians everywhere were heartbroken for walker Jane Saville at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when she was disqualified just 200m from the finish line for having two feet off the ground. Saville herself was so shattered she said post-match "A gun to shoot myself", when asked if she needed anything. Saville didn't let her home heartbreak stop her from competing in Athens four years later and while her bronze medal finish didn't make up for not winning gold in Sydney, it showed the Aussie spirit of never giving up was still alive and well within Saville.

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09. Duncan Armstrong wins gold - 1988 Seoul Olympic Games

Duncan Armstrong rose to fame at the 1988 Seoul Olympics when he snatched gold from American rival Matt Biondi in the 200m men's freestyle final. Ranked number 46 in the world and competing in his first Olympics, Armstrong was facing three former world record holders in the final when he surged past Sweden's Anders Holmertz and Biondi to claim gold and swim a new world record, finishing in 1:47 seconds. He would also go onto win silver in the 400m freestyle making it one hell of an Olympics debut for Armstrong.

08. Kieran Perkins replicates Olympic triumph - 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games

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Leading into the 1996 Altana Olympics, Kieran Perkins was already a gold medallist. Having won the 1500m freestyle in Barcelona, you could be forgiven thinking Perkins would have been the favourite going into Atlanta, yet the Queenslander was horribly out of form going into the race and only qualified for the final by 0.24 seconds. It looked as though all hope rested with fellow Australian and favourite Daniel Kowalski for the gold to come back to Australia, yet Perkins swum what was one of the greatest Olympic races in history. Relegated to lane eight, Perkins dominated the race to win back-to-back golds and was the only man to swim the race in under 15 minutes (14:56:40). Perkins' win solidified his standing in swimming royalty as he became just the second Australian to successfully defend an individual Olympic championship.

07. Women's Water Polo team wins home gold - 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

Making its debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the women's water polo final saw host country Australia take on America in the inaugural final. With scores tied at 3-3 in the dying stages of the game, Yvette Higgins slammed a powerful shot past three defenders that somehow found its way into the back of the net. The miraculous shot gave Australia the fairy-tale victory in front of their home crowd with the moment just one of many great Australian moments from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

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What a team. Credit: Australian Olympic Committee
What a team. Credit: Australian Olympic Committee

06. 'The Oarsome Foursome' row to victory - 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games

The rowing team of James Tomkins, Mike McKay, Andrew Cooper, and Nick Green became household names after their famous victory at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Finding form they'd struggled to capture in the lead-up to the Games, the group later dubbed as 'The Oarsome Foursome' held off a late charge by America to win the race by three quarters of a length. They would again replicate their gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games, with Drew Ginn stepping in for the retired Cooper.

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05. Anna Mears goes from silver to gold - 2012 London Olympic Games

Now a household name and Olympic favourite, track cyclist Anna Mears road to Olympic gold is the stuff of grit and determination. At the 2008 World Cup in Los Angeles, Mears suffered a heavy fall which saw her fracture her neck, dislocate her shoulder and tear ligaments. The fall would have been enough to end the career of most athletes yet just two weeks later, Mears was back on the bike in a bid to make it to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her unbelievable comeback resulted in a silver medal in Beijing, yet it was her efforts four years later in London that is the stuff of legends. Mears overcame hometown girl, Beijing gold medallist and rival Victoria Pendleton to claim gold in what was the pinnacle of a long and tough career in the sport.

Anna Mears leads the pack in London. Credit: PA
Anna Mears leads the pack in London. Credit: PA

04. Betty Cuthbert comes back from retirement - 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games

Betty Cuthbert became known as Australia's "Golden Girl" at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics when she bolted her way to three gold medals on the track. At just 18, Cuthbert won the 100m and 200m events while being a part of the 4x100m relay winning team. Tragedy then struck at the 1960 Rome Olympics when Cuthbert suffered an injury, forcing her to hang up the spikes and retire. Her decision was a premature one though as she backflipped on retirement to compete at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and run her way to gold in the 400m event. At 26, Cuthbert proved many doubters wrong who believed she was too old to replicate her winning ways from eight years earlier.

03. Steve Hooker pole vaults to superstardom - 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Steve Hooker went from unknown to superstar following his gold medal winning performance in Beijing. Hooker became the first Australian field athlete in 60 years to win gold while also becoming the first Australian gold medal pole vaulter. Hooker broke an Olympic record when he cleared 5.96m on his way to gold with the man from Melbourne becoming an Australian sporting icon in the process.

Steve Hooker celebrates his historic victory. Credit: PA
Steve Hooker celebrates his historic victory. Credit: PA

02. Ian Thorpe brings it home in Sydney - 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

Heading into the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Americans had never lost a 4x100m freestyle relay, making them the clear favourites to win gold yet again. But with the backing of a home crowd, the team of Michael Klim, Chris Fydler, Ashley Callus, and Ian Thorpe rose to the occasion and believed they could beat the unstoppable force. With the Americans in control for the first three legs, Thorpe entered the pool half a body length back from rival Gary Hall Jr. The superstar quickly made up the ground and powered home in the final 10m to secure gold and an historic victory for the Australians. It was a monumental victory made even sweeter by the fact they'd broken the world record in doing so.

01. Cathy Freeman becomes a legend - 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

While this may have come in at number 3 on our Top 10 Olympic Moments list, there's no question it belongs at number one of the top Australian moments in Games history. Cathy Freeman created history in the 2000 Sydney Olympics when she won gold in the 400m track event in a time of 49.11 seconds. Despite her closest rival Marie-Jose Perec not competing, it didn't take away from the fact that Freeman ran the race of a lifetime to win gold and create a moment that still hasn't been beaten 21-years later in the best Australian Olympic moments of all-time.

Featured Image Credit: Wiki/PA

Topics: olympics, olympic games, Tokyo Olympics, Australia

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