Australia's James Magnussen on July 31 (CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages)

In the land Down Under, silver has become the new gold.

At home, Australia’s two-speed economy is based around finding valuable metals such as gold. Unfortunately for Australia’s Olympians, that search has hit a dud-seam in London.

For a country that has become accustomed to winning a paddling pool of Olympic swimming gold medals, the past week has prompted usually overconfident Australian sports fans (such as myself) to scratch their heads in disbelief at their athletes’ absence atop the podium.

Australia, with its relatively small population of 21m, has traditionally punched well above its weight in recent Olympic Games. The current medals table of one gold and eight silvers tells another tale.

To make matters even worse, the unthinkable has just occurred: New Zealand – our traditional rival to the east – has drawn clear of Australia in the medal count, thanks to two golds in the rowing. For those of us from “the West Island”, as some Kiwis describe that rather substantial land mass across the Tasman Strait, the shame is almost unbearable.

With the exception of a single gold in the women’s 100 metre freestyle relay, Australia’s swimmers – like the country’s mining-led economy – have been decidedly two-speed: slow, or a touch slower than the winner. 

Will there be enough food – and staff – to serve the hordes of spectators at the Olympic stadium? Mark Wembridge gives his view 

At a final dress rehearsal on Wednesday night for London’s opening ceremony – the vision of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting director Danny Boyle – some 50,000 ticket holders, which included myself in the nose-bleed seats, were presented with a uniquely British affair.

Without wishing to divulge the plot more than has already been revealed publicly, the spectacle traces the Britain’s history through a pastiche of dance, song, film, literature and audience interaction.