How many of the 19 Olympic medals won at Beijing 2008 will Team GB retain in London next year? The picture is muddied a little by programme changes but it’s looking pretty good for the gold group at least. Here’s a quick run down:
Cycling: Chris Hoy – Even though he will be 36, the Scot has proclaimed himself stronger than ever, and proved it by winning the individual sprint and keirin at September’s national track champs, although a bout of flu then hit his hopes at the Europeans. He will probably only be in contention for one of those in London because new rules restrict countries to one entry per individual event, but he will be able to double up for the team sprint, of which more later.
Cycling: Men’s team pursuit – Geraint Thomas has already said he will forsake the 2012 Tour de France to concentrate on defending his Olympic team pursuit title and team-mate Ed Clancy this week pondered giving up the omnium – where he is a past world and current European champion – to be sure of this event. Of the Beijing team, Paul Manning is now a coach and Bradley Wiggins is likely to compete on the road but any two of Pete Kennaugh, Andy Tennant and Steven Burke could step up.
Rowing: Men’s coxless four – Whatever the line-up, Great Britain have to be favourites, having taken gold in style at the World Championships in August and with the possibility of being strengthened further. Tom James will almost certainly retain his spot and Pete Reed and Andy Hodge may come back into the boat after three years in the pair. Only Steve Williams, who retired after winning his second Olympic gold and has since trekked to the north pole, will not be there.
Rowing: Lightweight men’s double scull – Mark Hunter took a year off to coach in the US, while Zac Purchase has had problems with illness but the duo who won GB’s first ever lightweight rowing Olympic medal in Beijing won the 2011 world title in a thriller from New Zealand and are back on course.
Sailing: Ben Ainslie – The toughest competition could prove to have been for GB selection as Ainslie saw off the challenge of two other Brits in the finn class to become one of the first athletes named in Team GB for 2012 and set his sights on a five successive Olympic medal, and a fourth successive gold.
Sailing: Paul Goodison – The 33-year-old laser sailor from Yorkshire beat team-mate Nick Thompson to selection and will get a chance to prove himself at the World Championships in Perth in December.
Swimming: Rebecca Adlington – At 22, Adlington is a stronger favourite now that she was going into Beijing, where she became the first British swmmer in 100 years to win more than one Olympic gold. The freestyle swimmer won her first world title over 800m in Shanghai in July and took silver in the 400m. Swimming margins are slim, and Adlington was often on the wrong side of them after the thrills of Beijing, but she seems back on course now.
Cycling: Nicole Cooke – The winner of the world and Olympic titles in 2008 has not shown the same form again – not helped by her struggles to settle with a pro team – and was asked to ride in support of fellow Brit Lizzie Armitstead at the 2011 Worlds, although when the youngster crashed Cooke still finished fourth in the sprint.
Cycling: Men’s team sprint – Since Jamie Staff’s injury and subsequent retirement in 2010, Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny have struggled to find a replacement. Fourty-one-year-old Jason Queally is the latest contender – after an amazing odyssey that has seen the Sydney Olympic champion go from cast-off to Paralympic hopeful to endurance rider – but their first test came unstuck, in part because of problems with the start area during the European Championships.
Cycling: Bradley Wiggins – He is unlikely to compete on the track, having admitted he has “been there, done that” in winning six Olympic track medals, but Wiggins’ shift in focus to the road has already brought him 2011 world time trial silver (as well as that fourth place in the 2009 Tour de France) and he will bid to do the same around Hampton Court on 1 August 2012.
Cycling: Victoria Pendleton – As many as three titles are on offer to the 2008 Olympic individual sprint champion as women’s team sprint and keirin have been added to the programme since Beijing. Pendleton’s partnership with Jess Varnish in the team sprint looks solid but her individual performances have been up and down, in part because of a training programme designed this year to focus on increased power over performance but also perhaps because of her very public bouts of self-doubt.
Sailing: Star class – World champions on the 2016 Rio Olympic course in January 2010, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson have struggled a little more this year, finishing fifth and second in the two major international regattas at the 2012 venue in Portland and Weymouth. They expect to have a new boat next year to get them back to the top of the podium.
Off the pace
Athletics: Christine Ohuruogu – An emotional winner over 400m in Beijing, a year after the saga of a ban for missed drugs tests ended with the world title, Ohuruogu has struggled for consistency since, not helped by a long-standing quad injury. She was only considered an outside bet for a place in the World Championships final when she false-started in the heats and was disqualified in Daegu in August.
Canoeing: Tim Brabants – A double medallist in Beijing, Brabants took a year off to work as a doctor in accident and emergency. Since then he has seen the kayak single 500m (where he took 2008 bronze) removed from the Olympic programme and he failed to gain selection in his favoured K1 1000m class for the 2011 Worlds, being beaten in a race-off by Paul Wycherley, who subsequently failed to reach the final in Hungary.
Out of contention
Cycling: Rebecca Romero – She has not announced her retirement but Romero’s decision last month to drop out of the British Cycling Olympic programme was an admission she will not be at 2012 after struggling to find a new event when the women’s individual pursuit was removed from the programme.
Sailing: Yngling – the “three blonds in a boat”have also been hit by the removal of their event from the Olympic programme. Sarah Ayton tried the 470 class but struggled to combine competing with motherhood and retired in February. And both Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson have failed to find new niches.
Boxing: James DeGale – In the only sport that still retains its rigid amateur and professional codes, Londoner De Gale turned pro after Beijing and now has a record of 11 wins and one defeat, ranked third among British super middleweights.