Rio 2016: Team GB can win 79 medals, says UK Sport

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Tom Daley and Nicola Adams
Team GB took home a record 65 medals from London 2012

UK Sport believes Great Britain could win 79 Olympic medals at Rio 2016 and be the first nation to beat its tally as hosts of the previous Games.

A final medal target - and targets for each sport - will come in July, but it is likely to be in a range of 47 to 79.

Team GB won a record 65 medals at London 2012 and 120 at the Paralympics.

"If all stars align and things go perfectly, it could be as good as 79 medals," said Simon Timson, UK Sport director of performance.

"We can be confident it will be our best ever away Games."

However, he admitted that there is "no absolute method" of forecasting a nation's likely medal haul.

GB medals in 2012
Great Britain finished third in the medal table at London 2012

Team GB won 29 golds, 17 silvers and 19 bronzes at 2012.

Timson said it would be "absolutely unprecedented" for a host country to increase its medal tally at the next summer Games.

Since the modern Olympic era began in 1896, it has never been done.

But Timpson said it was "a challenge that has kindled the fire in the bellies of our elite programmes, coaches and athletes".

He added that it was important to set an aspirational goal "to focus people's effort and to drive the intensity of that effort".

Trackers and targets

UK Sport has statistically modelled 250,000 different scenarios in Rio based on British performances in major events in 2015.

This analysis suggests GB will win 53 medals.

But a more up-to-date 'tracker', based on projections from each sport, says 71 medals might be possible.

Diving, gymnastics and swimming all posted great results in 2015, while cycling showed signs of a return to the form of 2008 and 2012.

The most recent prediction from sport statistics company Infostrada had GB in fifth place on 48 medals.

Russia was third with 70 medals, a figure that may need revising if the country's athletics team remains banned.

UK Sport's predictions for Paralympics GB were even more bullish, with a London-beating total of 124 being suggested.

Zika virus threat to Olympics

Rod Carr, the chair of UK Sport, said he was confident that Rio organisers would have plans in place to combat the threat of the Zika virus at the Games.

The virus has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains and has been spreading on a massive scale in the Americas, including Brazil.

Carr told BBC Sport: "Sport is important, but not that important. No-one wants to risk the lives of unborn children, mothers or families.

"At least it has happened now and not two weeks before the Games.

"There will be a massive effort to sort it out. I will be surprised if it is still a threat to the athletes in Rio.

"We will follow what is best for the athletes and their supporters."

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