Great Britain bid for Rio glory and dream scenario is 79 medals

Published: Tuesday 26th January 2016 by The News Editor

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UK Sport is targeting a record Great Britain medal haul for an Olympics on foreign soil at Rio 2016 but hopes of bettering the London 2012 haul are in the balance.

Actual goals for this summer’s Games will not be unveiled until July, but the UK’s high performance sports agency is hopeful Great Britain will become the first nation to accumulate more medals in the next Olympics on from being hosts.

The current minimum aim is 47 medals, with the top-end estimate being 79 podiums.

Improving on London was an aspiration set in the run-up to a record-breaking 2012 Games for Team GB where they won 65 Olympic medals and 120 in the Paralympics.

It remains to be seen if such a challenging target can be met. But, speaking in London on Tuesday, UK Sport director of performance Simon Timson said Great Britain remain on course to make Rio their most successful ‘away’ Olympics of all time.

“There is no trajectory, no absolute method of forecasting a nation’s likely medal haul,” he said.

“The aspirational goal of 66 – the first indication we should look at is, what are the sports telling us? When set out initially in 2012 it was based on the information the sports gave us.

“Looking at our current cumulative target ranges, the least we can collectively expect is 47, the same number as Beijing 2008, but if all stars align and things go perfectly it could be as good as 79 medals. We can be confident it will be our best ever away games.”

Attempting to beat the Team GB record for the number of medals won in an Olympics on foreign soil is one thing, but eclipsing the London 2012 total looks more difficult.

Timson believes it was right to set such a challenge, as he explained the drop-off in medals from other countries in the past comes after the passion and evocative emotion stirred by a home Olympics.

“Our targets will be set in the normal way after conversations with individual sports in the coming months,” he said.

“It is a huge challenge, but the scale of expectation, what it did in late 2012 was galvanise and inspire coaches and athletes in the system to take their performances to another level after there could have been a lull following an emotive games.

“It (winning more in the subsequent Olympics) is absolutely unprecedented but a challenge that has kindled the fire in the bellies of our elite programs, coaches and athletes.

“It is also important to reflect on why we set an aspirational goal – it is to focus people’s effort and to drive the intensity of that effort.

“One of the reflections that previous host nations have shared with us is that there is a huge emotive high after a host games, a large range of factors that influence why they haven’t been able to do it afterwards.

“We set a highly ambitious aspirational goal to refocus everyone. It was never the intention for that to be the target, that will be based on what the sports are telling us is achievable.”

Liz Nicholl, the chief executive of UK Sport, praised the Government decision to increase funding for the organisation by 29 per cent. She also called for a new code of governance across sports supported by UK Sport in the wake of recent scandals within the IAAF and FIFA.

“We have codes now but this is one that would be revised and revisited to address some of the issues happening,” Nicholl said.

“There is a topic of conversation both nationally and internationally over the governance of leadership in sport.

“We suggested it (a new code of governance) as part of our submission – it will become mandatory for all sports that we fund, working to make sure there are clear targets and conditions of award that means they are compliant and will allow better leadership and make them more effective at delivering their objectives.

“Never has there been a more important time to do this given the ongoing discussions on FIFA and the IAAF. It is important for the UK to have a strong voice and strong leaders.

“We want good people for the UK to be elected and selected and to be listened to and make a positive difference to sport nationally and internationally.”

Published: Tuesday 26th January 2016 by The News Editor

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