Australia has sent athletes to almost all editions of the modern Olympic Games. Australia has competed in every Summer Olympic Games, as well as every Winter Olympics except 1924-32 and 1948. In 1908 and 1912 Australia competed with New Zealand under the name Australasia.
The Australian Olympic Committee was founded and recognised in 1895. Edwin Flack was the first athlete to represent Australia at the Olympics. He won gold in both the 800 metres and the 1500 metres, competed in the marathon and won a bronze medal in tennis doubles at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Australia's kit is green and gold.
Australia has hosted the Summer Olympic games twice: in 1956 in Melbourne and in 2000 in Sydney. Australia finished 3rd and 4th in the respective medal counts. In the Summer Olympics since 2000, Australia has placed 4th, 4th, 6th and 10th* respectively. (* Australia finished in 8th position in 2012 if the redistributed gold medal to Jared Tallent is considered). Given Australia has a population of only around 23 million people (ranked 53rd in the world), this fact is frequently cited as noteworthy by the mainstream Australian media due to a strong sporting culture. Other observers have suggested this may also be a result of the generous funding the Australian Government has invested into elite sports development with the specific intention of improving performance at the Olympic games. Prior to Montreal, there was no government funding, however.
Many of Australia's gold medals have come in swimming, a sport which is popular in Australia, with swimmers from Dawn Fraser to Ian Thorpe ranking among the sport's all-time greats. Other sports where Australia has historically been strong include:field hockey, with the women's team winning three gold medals between 1988 and 2000 and the men's team winning in 2004;
cycling, particularly track cycling;
equestrian events and specifically the three-day teams eventing;
Australia takes international sporting competition, particularly the Olympics, very seriously, and provides much government funding and coaching support to elite athletes, partly through the Australian Institute of Sport. Australia has been more modestly successful in the track events at the games, particularly in modern times. Historically, Betty Cuthbert is Australia's most successful track athlete with four gold medals (three in 1956 and one in 1964).
Australia did not win a medal at the Winter Olympics until 1994, but has moved higher on the medal tallies since then (ranking 13th at Vancouver 2010). This is a reflection on increased funding of Australia's Olympic Winter Games team.
Australia have hosted the Games on two occasions:
Australia has unsuccessfully bidded for the Games on three other occasions:*Red border color indicates tournament was held on home soil.
These totals do not include ten medals won by Australians competing for the combined Australasia team in 1908 and 1912: eight by individuals, one by an exclusively Australian team, and one by a combined team.