With just 500 days to go to London 2012, ambition and confidence within British Olympic and Paralympic sports is running high. UK Sport, the nation’s high performance sports agency, today revealed that the medal targets for major competitions in 2011 are up on those won at the equivalent point before the Beijing Games.
A range of 30 to 61 medals is targeted at World Championships this year by Olympic sports, and 34 to 52 by their Paralympic counterparts. In 2007, 42 medals were won in Olympic disciplines at World Championships, and while direct comparisons cannot be made in Paralympic sports due to differing competition schedules, 37 were won at Paralympic World Championships.
In most cases, outside of Olympic year, the milestone event for each sport is their World Championships. Following equestrian success at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, when Team GBR topped the medal table, the focus for 2011 is the European Championships.
Dressage kick things off in Rotterdam (17-21 August), Eventing follow, with their Championships this year staged in Luhmühlen, Germany (25-28 August), before the Showjumping Europeans are staged in Madrid (13-18 September). The para-equestrian dressage squad focus on their own Europeans, this year in Moorsele, Belgium (1-4 September) and will be looking to strengthen their impressive medal haul from the 2009 Championships.
Will Connell, World Class Performance Director commented; “2010 was a successful year for our three Olympic and one Paralympic equestrian discipline, however we cannot afford to be complacent. Our priority is to preserve our current horsepower while continuing to develop strength in depth.
“There is no doubt that we have world class riders capable of bringing home medals and a dedicated, talented team of staff, trainers and owners is support. Having our top horses fit and sound in July/August 2012 will be a key factor and Lottery funding available through UK Sport is allowing us to prepare in a professional and focused way.”
UK Sport is investing over £100m a year in the four years to London of National Lottery, Government Exchequer and private income from Team 2012, presented by Visa, in Britain’s Olympic and Paralmypic sports. UK Sport agrees medal target ranges with these sports as part of their funding agreement and sees them as a necessary part of monitoring the progress each sport is making on the world stage towards London 2012. The top end of the range represents the best possible outcome at the sport’s milestone event for the coming year, while the bottom is the point below which the sport will judge itself to have under-performed.
Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, said: “British athletes are among the best funded and supported in the world, with record levels of investment through to London 2012. So it is encouraging that, with 500 days to go to the home Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, sports continue to show ambition and confidence in what can be collectively achieved.
“We know that improving on the performances in Beijing is a tough ask and won’t be easy. Medals are not the only means by which performance should be judged and progress assessed. None the less they are the bottom line in high performance sport, and the total of the medal targets we have agreed with sports announced today provide us with positive evidence that the momentum we have seen since Beijing continues as we head towards one of the biggest moments for British sport in all our lifetimes.”
In April, UK Sport will unveil the latest set of ‘Mission 2012’ submissions, which track the current state of play across all areas of the UK high performance system and progression towards London 2012, presented on the tracker boards held at UK Sport’s London headquarters. UK Sport’s Mission 2012 system is now over three years old and helps UK Sport to identify issues and challenges faced by sports, and find solutions to overcome them.