Beijing 2022 Olympians to learn from Tokyo

Melissa WoodsAAP
Laura Peel is rated one of Australia's brightest medal prospects at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Camera IconLaura Peel is rated one of Australia's brightest medal prospects at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Credit: AP

Australia's Winter Olympians are hoping to use lessons learned in Tokyo to reap a record number of medals in Beijing in 2022.

The Games open in China in 100 days - on February 4 - with a team of around 40 Australian athletes attending.

More than a dozen of these are ranked in the world's top 10 in their discipline, including world champions, aerial skier Laura Peel and snowboard cross mixed pair Jarryd Hughes and Belle Brockhoff.

Hughes is also set to compete in the men's individual event, which he won silver in at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, while mogul skier Matt Graham, who also won silver there, topped the world cup standings this year.

There are also exciting snowboarding youngsters Tess Coady, who has been amongst the World Cup medals, and teenager Valentino Guseli, who has already been signed by Red Bull.

Beijing Chef de Mission Geoff Lipshut was reluctant to label it Australia's strongest ever team but said there were definite medal hopes

"We've got some great athletes," Lipshut told AAP.

"But the fact that we do sports which include a lot of risk, height and speed so those things on a knife edge.

"If you look at the last five Games our range has been between two and three medals and I think that's where we will be at.

"But if all of our athletes had their best day on the right day then we would have an incredible Games."

After success in Tokyo where the team matched a previous best haul of 17 gold medals, the Australian Olympic Committee mined athletes and officials for information while they were in hotel quarantine.

Beijing athletes and their support staff will be under even stricter conditions than in Tokyo to prevent COVID-19 entering China.

Those not vaccinated must complete three weeks quarantine while all participants can only move in "closed circuits" - from arrival to departure and from bed to competition venues, all in hermetically sealed transport systems.

Lipshut said a team, led by former national kayak coach Richard Fox - the father of Olympic champion Jessica - and former Super Netball boss Chris Symington, interviewed returnees from Tokyo.

"We actually did a Tokyo intelligence project, so we interviewed as many role-holders as we could while they were in hotel quarantine," he said,

"We were trying to understand about how you manage in a COVID-affected Games.

"We thought it was really relevant, because it was so close with the Beijing organising committee watching Tokyo closely and taking a similar approach."

Lipshut said early lessons they took from the report were about building a successful culture and the team hotel set-up.

"We're going to put as many of those things into our planning and operation in Beijing," he said.

Lipshut said the athletes were prepared for a "different" Games than previous Olympics, but felt that like Tokyo, there would be positives to the bubble experience.

Bobsleigh pilot Breeana Walker is currently in Beijing for a test event and told AAP the facilities were first-rate while she didn't think the restrictions too onerous.

"These Games will be different but it doesn't mean they'll be bad, it doesn't mean they'll be worse," Lipshut said.

"China's health settings are very different now, increasingly so to a lot of the rest of the world, because they can't afford to have an outbreak as they are still at zero cases.

"We have to respect that and live by their health settings but it's about how we manage ourselves and interact with each other."

The only Australian quota spots confirmed so far are in the men's and women's competition in the figure skating with some sports not decided until mid January.

Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine earned the places for Australia after they each placed seventh in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September.

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