blairtrewin, one example of the Australian fast-track is Daria Gavrilova, who competed for Australia in the Olympics after immigrating to Australia from Russia last year.
In terms of competing based on heritage such as the birthplace of a parent, the only time Canada didn't win the gold medal in the early days of Olympic ice hockey competition (i.e., before the USSR became good), Canada lost to a UK team that was composed of Canadians of British heritage.
I see that Canada is now going the heritage route as well. Excerpts from an article in the Canadian press a couple of days ago:
"COC reaping benefits of digging up athletes with a link to Canada" http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/rio-2016/steve...
"When Johnathan Cabral crossed the finish line with a rather stunning sixth placing in the 110-metre hurdles, the rather earnest press attache from the Canadian Olympic Committee asked: 'Does anyone want to talk to Johnathan?'
'I would,' came the response in the mixed zone, 'if I had any idea who Johnathan is.'
Medals and headlines aside, the surprising sixth-place finish that Cabral had would normally be considered close to a victory in a very challenging Olympic event, except for this: Barely a soul across Canada has any idea who Cabral happens to be.
How is this possible?
Well, for starters, he was born in Oregon. He grew up and starred in high school in football and track at Agoura Hills, Calif., where he was coached by his father, an American. His mom, Ghislane, who divorced her husband 15 years ago, was born in small town Quebec.
Thus, through research, ingenuity and a just a touch of desperation, a not-so-accidental Canadian Olympian was born."
"Anne Merklinger, the CEO of Own The Podium, admits without shame or trepidation that Canadian coaches and individual sports organizations in Canada now recruit by birthplace. They don’t only search for Canada’s best. They target America’s best who happen to have some kind of Canadian connection."
"Both John Atkinson of Swim Canada and Peter Eriksson of Athletics Canada actively work with the NCAA in the United States to find American athletes with Canadian connections."
"In the past we have mocked other countries for this very practice, but Merklinger points out that Canada has lost its own athletes to competing nations in recent Games under similar circumstances."