Great Britain’s Olympians are on course to surpass their medal haul from Beijing and finish fourth in the medal table at London 2012, government funding body UK Sport said on Tuesday.
Team GB won 47 medals in China four years ago, with 19 of them gold, and Great Britain already has 44 world medals in Olympic events this year, with sailing still to come.
Boxing (four medals) and taekwondo (three) played their parts in 2011 but the big five sports – in terms of medals available – offer the best pointers as to where medals will come in 2012.
Beijing tally: 1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
Christine Ohuruogu won GB’s only Olympic track title, in the 400m in Beijing. There were silver medals for triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Germaine Mason in the high jump and Tasha Danvers took 400m hurdles bronze.
Injury has plagued three of those medallists since, though: Mason was dropped from the ranks of funded athletes for next year, Danvers remains on the list despite having raced just once in the last two years and Ohuruogu has struggled with a quad problem for the last two seasons and been well under par.
Current world champions:
Mo Farah – who won gold in the 5,000m less than a week after being pipped to the 10,000m title – and 400m hurdler Dai Greene both topped the podium for GB at the 2011 Worlds in Daegu, South Korea. Farah is tipped to win in at least one of those events next year but Greene knows he has a fight on his hands, as five of his rivals in that world final had better personal bests than the Welshman’s 47.88 seconds.
GB won seven medals in all in Daegu, with Hannah England (silver, 1500m) and Andy Turner (bronze, 110m hurdles) the surprise packages, while Idowu and Ennis were disappointed to some degree in having to settle for silver.
Beijing tally: 8 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze
Sir Chris Hoy, who accounted for three of those golds (individual sprint, team sprint and keirin) is only likely to defend two of them as new rules restrict each country to one entrant in individual events, but whoever replaces Hoy must have a good chance too. Two golds will not be up for renewal as the individual pursuit has been dropped, leaving Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero as perpetual champions. Nicole Cooke won the women’s road race title and Emma Pooley took silver in the time trial.
Current world champions:
Highlight of the year was Mark Cavendish becoming Great Britain’s first male world road race champion since Tom Simpson in 1965, and the team-work that set up his sprint finish in Copenhagen is expected to be replicated on The Mall next July.
Great Britain appeared to deprioritise the track World Championships in the Netherlands in March, instead recording strong performances earlier in the season before allowing the top men to concentrate on the road. The women continued their dominance of the team pursuit, though, winning their third world title four years in an event new to the Olympic programme in 2012.
Despite favouring the road, Wiggins showed he is still a candidate for an Olympic medal by taking silver in the road time trial, while Pooley surprised many with bronze over a course that did not suit her slight frame.
On the track, Hoy won a silver (keirin) and two bronzes (team and individual sprint), with Jason Kenny ahead of him in the latter and a rival for that single individual sprint spot at 2012. Victoria Pendleton won silver with Jess Varnish in the women’s team sprint – another new event for 2012 – and bronze in the individual event, and will expect to step up in both. Dani King took bronze in the scratch race but is expected to compete in the omnium at 2012 and a young men’s team pursuit quartet secured bronze and will be bolstered by Geraint Thomas’s return this year.
Beijing tally: 2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze
GB’s men’s coxless four won in Beijing and three of that crew – Andy Hodge, Pete Reed and Tom James – could feature in the same event four years later. Lightweight double scullers Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase must also be favourites for a repeat. Katherine Grainge’s silver in the quad was her third in succession and the difference between here celebration in 2000 and disappointment in 2008 clearly demonstrated her priorities for 2012. There were bronze medals in both men’s and women’s double sculls, events in which Matt Wells and Anna Watkins respectively remain for 2012.
Current world champions:
The three golds won by Great Britain in Bled, Slovenia in early September were just the tip of an iceberg that saw them take 10 medals and qualify for 2012 places in 13 of the 14 Olympic events.
The men’s four were dominant in winning their second title in three years, fuelling their argument that they are just fine without Hodge and Reed, Grainger won her second successive double sculls crown with Watkins and Hunter and Purchase won a thriller over New Zealand.
Arguably only the women’s eight could be happy with their bronze. Certainly the three silvers – for Reed and Hodge in the pair behind New Zealand, the men’s eight behind Germany and women’s pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning – were greeted with disappointment. There were also lightweight bronze medals in the women’s double and men’s four.
Beijing tally: 2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze
Rebecca Adlington became the first Brit in 100 years to clinch two Olympic swimming golds, winning the 800m and 400m freestyle. Jo Jackson’s bronze over 400m was the only other medal in the pool and Kerri-anne Payne’s gold, silver for David Davies and bronze for Cassie Patten all came in the 10km open-water event. Patten has since retired through injury and Davies has struggled for form.
Current world champions:
Adlington overcame pressure and previous dips in form to win the 800 free title and take silver over 400m in Shanghai in August, after her close friend Payne won the 10k title to become the first Brit to qualify for 2012 (although her selection has still to be ratified). Liam Tancock won a third gold for GB but his favourite event, the 50m backstroke, is not part of the Olympic programme.
Great Britain showed increased depth in the pool with silvers for Ellen Gandy in the 200m butterfly and Hannah Miley in 400m individual medley.
Beijing tally: 4 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze
Ben Ainslie took his third successive Olympic gold in the finn in 2008 and will look to make that four at Weymouth and Portland next summer having already been named in the squad for 2012.
Also sure of Olympic places are defending champions Paul Goodison in the laser and the star keelboat duo Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson but the women’s yngling trio will not get a chance to defend their crown after the event was dropped. Windsurfing bronze medallist Bryony Shaw will also be back for another Games but 470 silver medallist Nick Rogers – now partnered by Chris Grubeafter Joe Glanfield’s retirement – is still waiting to secure his spot.
The World Championships – which take place in Perth from 3-18 December – are the only event in each four-year cycle, outside the Olympics at which the world’s top crews compete together so results there will be another good marker on the route to 2012.
How many current world medallists do you think will be able to convert their success into a place on the Olympic podium next summer?