Team GB set target of winning 48 medals at Rio Olympics

• Athletes expected to bring home seven medals and cyclists asked for eight
• Paralympics team given target of 121 - more than at London Olympics

Those responsible for investing £350m in British sport since London 2012 have claimed success in Rio will help unite the nation in troubled times, after setting a target of winning more medals than ever before at an overseas Games.

Immediately following the success of the London 2012 Olympics, in which Team GB finished third in the medal table with 65 medals including 29 golds, the funding agency UK Sport set the ambitious target of becoming the first host nation to win “more medals in more sports” at the Games that followed.

But over the past 12 months it has steadily edged away from that aspiration and has now set a target of at least 48 medals, bettering the total in Beijing in 2008. The target medal range, based on its analysis of the latest performance data, is 47 to 79.

UK Sport’s chief executive, Liz Nicholl, said the target of 48 medals did not represent diminished ambition given the earlier promise made in the wake of the London Games.

“It was, and still is, our aspiration. Sixty-six is within range, it is within sight. But when we look at the statistics, we know it’s not probable. But it’s still possible if everything goes well,” she said. “Our focus on 48 is because we must all acknowledge that would be a great success for the sporting system. It would be a historic result.”

Nicholl does not regret setting the original target: “In London we came together like never before and there was always the risk that once we came through London everything could have dissipated. It was important that we agreed collectively that there was an aspiration to do better.”

She emphasised the progress that had been made since 1996 in Atlanta, when Great Britain came 36th in the medal table and won a solitary gold, prompting the influx of National Lottery funding. “I think it’s a great opportunity for sport to unify the nation in quite a challenging time. You saw that with Andy Murray’s success at Wimbledon,” she said.

“That’s what we hope to do, to make everybody proud. I don’t think we expected the whole nation to be as proud as they were in London. But those medal moments are very special. They surpassed whatever other issues might be going on in society and brought everyone together and made them proud to be British.”

Athletics has been set a medal range of seven to nine, while cycling will target eight to 10.

UK Sport said the recent problems within British Cycling that led to the departure of the performance director Shane Sutton would not hinder its medal chances.

The British Olympic Association chief executive, Bill Sweeney, also said he believed success in Rio would help heal the rifts caused by the European referendum campaign.

“It definitely makes a difference. Sport transcends boundaries. You saw the day after Andy Murray’s win, there were a number of headlines in the press about, ‘Good news for a change’, and this helps to unite the nation’,” he said.

“There’s no question that the referendum has created rifts within our society and I think sport [gives us] an opportunity to celebrate, rather than worry about an uncertain future.”

UK Sport’s chairman, Rod Carr, said: “I have no doubt whatsoever that when British athletes win in Rio it will have a major uniting force for the nation as a whole.”

Simon Timson, the UK Sport performance director who will leave to take up the same role at the Lawn Tennis Association in October, said other nations had caught up with Britain’s high-performance system and he expected the battle for medals to be intense.

Sweeney hopes for a gold medal haul in the “high teens or early 20s”. In London, Britain won 29 gold medals. “High teens, coming back with fourth place in the table and a best ever away Games in terms of total medals, I think we could be pretty happy with that,” he said.

For the Paralympics, UK Sport has set a medal target of at least 121 medals, surpassing the number achieved in London, within a range of 113 to 165. “The medal target is certainly an ambitious one, and we believe we can achieve a medal tally that falls within this range,” said the British Paralympic Association chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth.


Owen Gibson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

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

The head of UK Sport, Liz Nicholl, has said Britain are on course to win more medals at the Rio Olympics than at London 2012

Owen Gibson

26, Jul, 2013 @7:02 PM

Article image
Britain invests and expects as Team GB aims for masses of medals in Rio
Team GB has become one of the most feared and imitated outfits in the Olympics, but will have to win at least 48 medals if they are to consider Rio a success

Owen Gibson in Rio de Janeiro

05, Aug, 2016 @9:29 PM

Article image
Louis Smith pommel fall leaves Team GB gymnasts out of medals in all-around
Great Britain finished fourth while Japan took the gold medals in the men’s all-around team gymnastics event in Rio

Emma John at the Gymnastics Arena

09, Aug, 2016 @12:21 AM

Article image
UK Sport sets target of six medals at world athletic championships

UK Sport has set British Athletics a target of six medals at August's world championships in Moscow

Andy Bull

28, Jun, 2013 @4:04 PM

Article image
Seb Coe enthused as Team GB double their medals tally on better day in Rio
Sebastian Coe, BOA president, believes ‘managing victory’ strategy is working for Team GB after medal tally is doubled in a day

Owen Gibson in Rio de Janeiro

10, Aug, 2016 @11:21 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
Team GB cyclists target winning ‘in the right way’ at Tokyo Olympics
The British Cycling performance director, Stephen Park, has promised his riders will win “in the right way” at the Tokyo Olympics in the wake of the devastating guilty verdict against the former team doctor Richard Freeman

Sean Ingle

20, Jun, 2021 @11:01 PM

Article image
Team GB set to lose 4x100m Olympic silver after second positive for Ujah
CJ Ujah’s B sample tested positive for two banned substances while UK Sport has admitted to ‘concerns’ about crisis in British athletics

Sean Ingle

14, Sep, 2021 @6:04 PM

Article image
Winter Olympics funding will not just be guided by medals, says UK sport chair
Katherine Grainger has said grassroots participation will help to determine future funding for Winter Olympic sports as well as medal potential

Tumaini Carayol

21, Feb, 2022 @4:50 PM

Article image
Jess Varnish offered Rio Olympics opening through new appeals process
The door to the GB team for Rio has been reopened a fraction for Jess Varnish after the BOA and British Cycling instituted an appeals procedure for riders outside the funding system

William Fotheringham

24, Jun, 2016 @5:24 PM