Britain 'on course to surpass London 2012 medal tally at Rio Olympics'

• UK Sport promises to invest £355m in build-up to 2016
• Pledge by chief executive to beat former host nation jinx

The head of UK Sport has said Great Britain are on course to win more medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 than at last year's London Games.

The chief executive, Liz Nicholl, revealed the organisation's performance analysis shows the sports are on track to deliver the ambitious target. UK Sport will invest £355m over the Rio cycle after the government confirmed during the London Games it would maintain funding for the next four years.

Nicholl said there was enough room for improvement – and enough signs that performance directors across a range of sports were working better together – to give her confidence that the ambitious target could be achieved.

"It was important to get the financial commitment to have another big, audacious goal. It is something worth doing and worth being part of," said Nicholl, who added that the success of the London Games had validated the decision to invest heavily in elite sport through the exchequer and the lottery.

"We have promised to do what no Olympic host has ever done and win more medals on foreign soil at the next Games. We need to turn that possibility into a probability and everything we're doing is focused on that."

She stated that guaranteed funding enabled British sport to avoid the brain drain that had hampered past host nations and said: "People know we're a well-resourced and a well-supported system. It's a good place to be to further develop their skills. There's a real confidence that the system can be improved. The talent pathways still need further development so that is exciting. If we can get that right as well, we'll be really flying."

UK Sport has vowed to beat the total of 65 medals achieved in London but Nicholl conceded that topping the 29 golds would be more challenging.

"As things stand, we're on track. The challenge in Rio is not going to be so much the medal count, though it will be challenging to beat 65 Olympic medals and 120 Paralympic medals when the rest of the world is investing as well and snapping at our heels," she said.

"The really big challenge will be the number of gold medals. We had an amazing conversion rate in London. I don't want to raise any expectations – a lot of the inspiration of London was fourth to thirds and second to firsts."

She said another key area for UK Sport would be to continue to focus on overhauling the governance of sports organisations "to get more independence and to get better balanced boards". Boxing recently became the latest funded sport to be riven by internal conflict.

"If we can move to the stage where we've got more independent chairs, better balanced boards, more non-execs, then sport will be in a better place," added Nicholl, who was cheered by the calibre of candidates coming into sport from business and other areas in the wake of the success of the London Games.


Owen Gibson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
UK Sport ready to beat London 2012 medal haul at Rio Olympics
Great Britain are on course to win more medals in Rio in four years' time than they did in London, according to UK Sport

Owen Gibson

14, Aug, 2012 @8:08 PM

Article image
Team GB set target of winning 48 medals at Rio Olympics
UK Sport pulls back from earlier bold expectations but hopes big haul at Rio will create feelgood factor

Owen Gibson

14, Jul, 2016 @3:21 PM

Article image
This Olympics hysteria shows that Britain has turned Soviet | Simon Jenkins
We used to ridicule the communists for using sport as a proxy for economic success. Now, with the vast sums thrown at Team GB and athletes declared ‘heroes’, we’re copying them

Simon Jenkins

17, Aug, 2016 @6:22 PM

Article image
Team GB targets record-breaking Winter Olympics medal tally in Beijing
BOA and UK Sport have record of five medals in sightsTeam ‘has potential to win between three and seven medals’

Sean Ingle

13, Jan, 2022 @2:08 PM

Article image
Great Britain’s Rio Olympics medal expectations downplayed by UK Sport
UK Sport has slightly tempered its expectations for the Rio Olympics – although it still expects to break the record for the most British medals won on foreign soil

Sean Ingle

26, Jan, 2016 @7:23 PM

Article image
The great funding debate: has Britain's medal chase gone too far? | Owen Gibson
Owen Gibson: As UK Sport prepares to deliver its verdict on appeals by seven sports who have had funding withdrawn, it is claimed the no-compromise approach is working against grassroots progress

Owen Gibson

18, Mar, 2014 @7:30 PM

Article image
Great Britain to send ‘best-prepared athletics team’ to Rio Olympics
Great Britain is sending ‘the best prepared and arguably strongest athletics team’ in the country’s Olympic Games history to Rio, according to Neil Black

Sachin Nakrani

13, Jul, 2016 @6:22 PM

Article image
UK Sport confident of breaking GB Olympic medal record at Tokyo 2020
UK Sport is ‘quietly confident’ that the Tokyo Olympics could be the best ever for British athletes, surpassing the record-breaking medal haul of 2016

Sean Ingle

19, Dec, 2019 @5:00 PM

Article image
UK Sport sets medal target for Rio 2016 to beat London Olympics haul
UK Sport said it is determined to ensure Great Britain becomes the first host nation in recent memory to deliver more medals at the following Olympic Games

Barry Glendenning

04, Dec, 2013 @6:29 PM

Article image
Stuart Pearce in line to coach Britain at London 2012 Olympics
The FA has earmarked the England Under-21 manager, Stuart Pearce, as its preferred candidate to coach a Great Britain team at the London Olympics

Dominic Fifield

12, Jan, 2011 @12:05 AM