Michael Bailey , London Olympics correspondent
Thursday, July 26, 2012
The bar was set high in Beijing, all for the benefit of the arrival of London four years later. So now it’s here, Michael Bailey looks at what Team GB want to deliver – and what we should all expect of them…
From the moment London won its bid for this summer’s Games, attention switched to the sporting prowess it would inspire.
Team GB received their expected spike in Beijing: 47 medals – 19 of them gold – produced our country’s best performance since 1908.
So the question is with all the added support of a partisan home crowd, the familiarity of the surroundings and then added pressure – what are GB aiming for this summer?
The targets have been revised here and there over the last four years, but the ranges are now set and the bar is high. The aim is one more medal than GB’s Beijing total, which should preserve their hard-won fourth in the medal table behind Russia, USA and the hosts – who amassed an incredible 51 golds at their home Games.
One place where Team GB wants to wring out a drop more success is in the athletics stadium. A range of five to eight medals is the aim; in Beijing GB won four. The likes of current world champions Dai Green (400m hurdles) and Mo Farah (5,000m) should help that pursuit, while 2009 world champion Jessica Ennis will be hoping to fulfil her big billing with gold in the heptathlon.
An unprecedented 14 medals headed GB’s way in the velodrome four years ago, so a target range of six to 10 medals sounds pessimistic. But Britain’s stunning success is the very reason why it won’t be repeated. Each country is now only allowed one rider in each event, regardless of how many world class acts you produce. Still, with triple-golden boy Chris Hoy and soon to retire Victoria Pendleton itching for the ride of their glittering careers, the velodrome should be a medal mine for GB again.
The aim is to match the six medals from the Beijing pool, with Rebecca Addlington set to lead that charge again – while Tom Daley carries the hopes of breaking GB’s 2008 duck off the diving board. At least three medals apiece are demanded from boxing, canoeing, equestrianism and sailing, with the controversial taekwondo selection geared to bringing home one medal, maybe three.
Every athlete will carry their own pressure to deliver – more than put on them from the rest of us outside.
The USA, Russia and China will most likely be out of sight in the table; Germany and Australia won’t be far behind. You suspect 2016 hosts Brazil will be pushing on too.
But in truth, if Team GB get anywhere near their Beijing placing and total, London will have been a success.