Rio 2016: Can Team GB better London 2012 success?

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

Great Britain can become the first nation to win more medals after hosting the Olympics and better its London 2012 success at Rio 2016, says UK Sport.

An exact target will be set next summer, but with a year to go until the 2016 Games in Brazil, UK Sport says improving on the record haul of 65 medals in 2012 is "within scope".

Since the modern Olympic era began in 1896, no host country has increased its medal tally at the next summer Games.

A Virtual Medal Tableexternal-link calculated by sports data company Infostrada Sports projects Great Britain will collect 48 medals.

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Liz Nicholl, UK Sport chief executive, said the "aspirational goal" was "not probable but possible". She told BBC Sport: "If it was easy, other nations would have done it before."

UK Sport director of performance Simon Timson admitted it was a "huge challenge" to repeat the success of a home Olympics, but said the next 12 months would see "all the innovative expertise in British sport come to the fore".

On Tuesday, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch announced a consultation on sports funding, warning the mounting cost of Olympic and Paralympic success is "at odds with the current financial climate".

How can Team GB top the 29 golds, 17 silvers and 19 bronzes of 2012?

BBC Sport assesses their chances - and those of their rivals - in some of the sports where Team GB will expect to prosper.


Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford
Jessica Ennis-Hill took heptathlon gold, Mo Farah scooped both the 5,000 and 10,000m honours and Greg Rutherford won the long jump at London 2012

2012 medal count: 6 (4 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)

Former 110m hurdle world champion Colin Jackson's verdict: "I'm pleased with the shape British Athletics is in. You've got reigning Olympic champions Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford still performing well, and Jessica Ennis-Hill, in her first year back since becoming a mother, with her sights set on Rio.

"There are also promising young athletes coming through in many events. A new British record has been set by Isobel Pooley in the high jump, Shara Proctor has broken the British record in the long jump and Dina Asher-Smith, the British 100m record holder, is running exceptionally well.

"The team has belief, they believe they can be contenders, and that will have a significant impact on how they will perform in Rio."


2012 medal count: 5 (3 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)

BBC Sport boxing writer Ben Dirs' verdict: "The tortuous qualification process for the Rio Olympics means it is impossible to predict how many boxers will compete for Britain, let alone how many medals - if any - they will win.

"A measure of how difficult it will be even to reach Rio is that only the top two boxers in each division will qualify via September's men's World Championships in Doha - and only the top six from the upcoming European Championships will qualify for Doha. However, it should be noted that there will be three more qualifying tournaments for the men in 2016.

Watch as Nicola Adams wins historic boxing gold at London 2012

"Super-heavyweight Joe Joyce qualified for Doha by winning gold at the European Games, as did welterweight Josh Kelly, who won bronze. Liverpool middleweight Anthony Fowler and Welsh flyweight Andrew Selby, who boxed in London, are both ranked in the top five in the world in their divisions.

"Reigning Olympic women's flyweight champion Nicola Adams is probably the best bet for a medal at this stage. Adams is also the reigning Commonwealth and European Games champion, although world silver medallist Lisa Whiteside, world-ranked three, might cause a selection headache. Sandy Ryan, who is moving down to lightweight, could also do well."


2012 medal count: 12 (8 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze)

Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman's verdict: "With an unprecedented medal haul at the last two Olympics surpassing that of most countries, the GB cycling team have set their personal bar so high it's almost unthinkable that they could sustain the same level of success.

"In the 2015 World Championships - the only gauge in my view as to what will come next - they have been competitive in most Olympic disciplines but winning in none.

"Assuming a resurgence of form on the day, something the team is good at, two or three golds would be a great and achievable result for the squad, but where those medals will come from is far from certain.

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

"The recent World Championships in Paris saw the team walk away without a single gold to their collective name, a far cry from their Olympic achievements of three years earlier. But all is not lost, the squad has many fine young athletes still in the hunt as the large spattering of silvers and bronzes showed.

"Sir Bradley Wiggins is now back on the scene and fully committed to the track programme. His selection is not guaranteed but we have to assume he will both make the grade and help the men's team pursuit claw their way back onto the top step next year in Rio.

"Fellow road pro Mark Cavendish's selection for the track team is far less certain due to his road commitments, which will not allow him the time he needs on the boards to prepare. Indeed, he will likely have to compete at the Tour de France just days before, so his selection will probably be confined to the road race.

Watch Team GB cyclists' standout 2012 moments
Sir Chris Hoy claims historic sixth goldGB women win team pursuit final
Laura Trott races to stunning omnium goldPendleton wins gold in the keirin
Jason Kenny wins men's sprint goldGB men win team pursuit in world record time

"If Cavendish does decide to pursue track selection, he would be a fantastic omnium rider, but time is running out for the Manxman if he wants to take that path.

"Australia have been playing bridesmaid to GB for the last two Games and now look to have really got their act together.

"Apart from the antipodeans, it is hard to say where the challenges will come from because, for the first time I can remember, the medals are not confined to the dominant few.

"At the World Championships in February the 16 golds on offer were won by nine different nations. That said, alongside Australia, we can expect the strongest challenges to come from an invigorated France in the sprint events."


Tom Daley
Tom Daley's sole bronze in the men's 10 platform in 2012 may present an achievable target for British divers in Rio

2012 medal count: 1 bronze

Olympic silver medallist Leon Taylor's verdict: "In London, it was all about Tom Daley on the last day as he effectively needed to win a medal to save the sport from a funding axe. Heading into Rio, there are medal opportunities in a multitude of events and that is something Great Britain have not had before.

"UK Sport set a target of one or two medals for the Kazan World Championships and the team went on to have a record-breaking event, claiming four with Jack Laugher showing just how talented a diver he is.

"That does not mean it will definitely happen again next year, but British Diving is in such a great place now and if they perform to their ability there is every chance that they can win more than the one medal they did at London 2012.

"China have long been the strongest diving nation and we saw again at the World Championships that they have some great athletes. But they are weaker than in previous years and we are starting to see other nations challenge them.

"Aside from Great Britain, Russia, Canada, and Mexico are capable of winning medals while North Korea shocked everyone with their first two world medals in history in Kazan."


2012 medal count: 5 (3 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)

British Equestrian Federation performance director Dan Hughes:external-link "World-class programme riders hold the world number one spot in our three Olympic disciplines: Charlotte Dujardin in dressage, Scott Brash in jumping and William Fox-Pitt in eventing. Despite these and other strong results in national and international competitions, there is no room for complacency.

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"There are tough challenges ahead, in particular making the most of our last opportunity to achieve Olympic qualification for our jumping team at the European Championships in Aachen.

"For those like me who remember the amazing scenes in London 2012 where our athletes and horses achieved medal success for Team GB beyond all expectations, Rio 2016 is a daunting prospect.

"We know it is often harder to stay at the top than get there, and other nations have already raised their game as they seek to establish their place in the history books."


Louis Smith, Claudia Fragapane and Max Whitlock
Louis Smith (left) and Max Whitlock (right) took men's team bronze in London, while Claudia Fragapane (centre) won four Commonwealth golds last year

2012 medal count: 4 (1 silver, 3 bronze)

Olympic bronze medallist Beth Tweddle's verdict: "Since London 2012, success has continued to build over a wider spectrum. Going into London there were a few names in contention for medals but now more names have emerged. The team has got so much depth.

"Max Whitlock has had a great couple of years, winning two world silvers, and Louis Smith is back in action - he's got the experience at the highest level.

"Rebecca Downie won the European title so she knows what it takes to be at the top. Then you've got the youngsters: Claudia Fragapane was the golden girl at the Commonwealth Games - there are great medal chances for her - and Giarnni Regini-Moran was the star of the Youth Olympics with three gold medals.

"On the girls' side, the USA team are always top-class - Simone Biles is in a league of her own. On the men's side, China, Japan and the USA will be strong. Gymnastics is all about what happens on the day, but Team GB would love to replicate what happened in London - four medals - and I feel that's realistic."


Helen Glover and Heather Stanning
Women's pair Helen Glover, left, and Heather Stanning will defend their world title in France next month

2012 medal count: 9 (4 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze)

Five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave's verdict: "They're in pretty good shape, with some boats performing extremely well. There are six, seven or possibly even eight medals there for them. Their tally will be less than London but that was the best ever.

"In the year before an Olympics, the boats are usually set. But is slightly different this year because, while the men's eight is the top boat for the forthcoming World Championships, it is more likely to be the four by the time Rio comes around. Either would have a great chance of winning gold."


2012 medal count: 5 (1 gold, 4 silver)

Double Olympic champion Shirley Robertson's verdict: "The team was devastated after 2012, with most of the senior sailors leaving, and it took a little bit of time to get over that. But there is some really good talent in the team and they have really started to deliver.

"Leading the way is Giles Scott in the Finn class. He is a no-brainer for gold because he is head and shoulders above everyone else, is unbeaten for almost two years and has proved a great replacement for Ben Ainslie."

Giles Scott
GB's Giles Scott won Finn gold at the Rio International Regatta in 2014, the test event for the 2016 Olympics

"The controversy around the water quality is something you can't understate. I've been to that venue before and I remember one guy going under the water then almost immediately being sick. The party line seems to be not to say much about it, but if I was competing I would be worried because it is difficult not to get wet when you are sailing."


2012 medal count: 3 (1 silver, 2 bronze)

Double Olympic champion Becky Adlington's verdict: "At London a lot of swimmers were ready to retire or were very young, whereas so many of the current squad are at the right age to peak in 2016, so I'm confident Rio will be an amazing Olympics.

"We could get more than three medals in Rio and we could get really good colours as well. We've seen so many impressive performances at the Commonwealth Games and then record-breaking Europeans last year. The experience of a home Games will also help many of the team.

Ross Murdoch, Adam Peaty and Siobhan-Marie O'Connor
Ross Murdoch, Adam Peaty and Siobhan-Marie O'Connor won medals at the current World Swimming Championships

"China and the USA are always strong in all events, but it will be interesting to see how Australia fare. They had a bit of stick for their performances at London 2012 as they did not achieve what was expected, but they are getting back to form and they are a force to be reckoned with again.

"The French gave us a glimpse of what they are capable of in London and are moving on all the time."


Alistair Brownlee
Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee finished 10th at the triathlon test event in Rio

2012 medal count: 2 (1 gold, 1 bronze)

European Championship bronze medallist Annie Emmerson's verdict: "The biggest challenge for Alastair and Jonny Brownlee is keeping themselves in one piece. Jonny has picked up a stress fracture of the femur and Alistair had an ankle niggle this season. While it does not matter much in 2015, it will do if there is a repeat in 2016.

"Spain's Javier Gomez split the Brownlees on the London 2012 podium. He is an amazing athlete, but he will be 33 by the time Rio comes around. He is not a young guy any more.

"Vincent Luis of France is phenomenal and will be one to watch. I do not think the open-water swim in Rio will suit Mario Mola, but fellow Spaniard Fernando Alarza will be a threat.

"On the women's side, you cannot rule out there being three British medals if Vicky Holland, Non Stanford and either Jodie Simpson or Helen Jenkins are at their absolute best.

"American Gwen Jorgensen has been awesome this season - her run is so strong - while Switzerland's defending Olympic champion Nicola Spirig will be the dark horse after choosing to train and compete away from the main ITU circuit."


The 2016 Paralympic Games will start after the Olympics on 7 September 2016, with 528 medal events contested over 11 days, and UK Sport believes Team GB can better the 120 medals it won in 2012.

While surpassing that tally would be a challenge, it would not be the history-making achievement that improving on the 2012 Olympic total would be.

Both Greece and China won more medals after hosting the Paralympics, although Australia won 101 medals in Athens 2004, compared to the 151 won as host nation at Sydney 2000.

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