Photo: AP Photo
Britain’s Olympians have been set a cautious target of winning 48 medals at the London Games, one more than in Bejing, with officials privately expecting the final figure will be closer to 55 and could be as high as 70.Funding body UK Sport revealed its medal targets for 28 of the 29 Olympic disciplines on Wednesday, predicting between 40 and 70 medals, with a specific target of exceeding the record-breaking performance of 2008 and again finishing fourth in the medals table.
With medal tables calculated on the number of gold medals it is possible that even if the total medals count is higher than 2008 that may not be possible. Of the 47 medals won in Beijing, 19 were gold – a high percentage that lifted Team GB from 10th in the table in Athens.
Chief executive Liz Nicholl defended the decision to set a relatively low target figure, but conceded that it was “comfortably” within the team’s range, and failure to make it would be a “major disappointment”.
“The top of the range is what is possible but not probable, and that is the same for the bottom of the range,” she said. “The 48 medals sits very comfortably within that range. But we aspire for them to be more than 48. The system would have underachieved if we got just 40 medals.”
Sports minister Hugh Robertson said he would seek an explanation if the target was missed: “If we were not to achieve that target then we would want to know why and where it went wrong.”
UK Sport has handed out more than £500 million in taxpayer and Lottery funding to Olympic sports since London was awarded the Games in 2005, and is hopeful that there will be a greater spread of medal-winning sports than the 11 that were successful in 2008.
Every sport with the exception of football, which UK Sport does not fund, has agreed a target, with 20 of the 28 hoping for at least one medal. In 2008, 14 sports had a minimum target of at least one medal.
Despite the potential greater spread, responsibility for winning the bulk of medals will again rest on the “formula one” sports in which GB excel, cycling, sailing and rowing, plus the ones with most medals on offer, athletics and swimming.
Cycling has a target of six to 10 medals, fewer than the remarkable haul of 14 from Beijing that did more than anything to elevate the British team to fourth in Beijing.
Rowing have a target of six medals having asked to post a specific number rather than a range, and sailing has a range of three to five. Swimming has set a target of five to seven, and athletics five to eight.
Taekwondo, which has controversially left out world number one Aaron Cook, has a target of one to three medals for its four-member team. Tennis has a target of nought to two medals, based almost entirely on Andy Murray’s presence in the singles and doubles draw.
At the other end of the scale badminton, judo, shooting and fencing have an upper target of one medal. Eight sports – basketball, synchronised swimming, table tennis, volleyball, handball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling – have conceded they would not win a medal and have targets of reaching certain stages of Olympic competition.
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