British sport 'united and focussed' behind historic Rio aspiration with one year to go

Published 4 August 2015

  • London legacy for high performance sport has ensured a pipeline of hugely talented athletes and expert coaches in sports with Rio medal aspirations 
  • Analysis of summer 2015 results will provide another indication of what’s possible in Rio and medal target range to be set in July 2016
  • Hosts Australia, Greece and China experienced a 14%, 75% and 12% drop, respectively, in medal haul at the following Olympic Games 
  • Paralympic medal haul increased post-hosting for Greece and China, but dropped by 33% for Australia

As sports enter the final year of preparation for the next Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, UK Sport, the nation’s high performance sports agency, has said the system remains focussed on its aspirational goal of becoming the first recent host nation to win both more Olympic and Paralympic medals at the next Games. 

History shows that other host nations have suffered a dip in performance following their home Games, as the benefits of home advantage and their country’s focussed effort on elite sport have ebbed away.

However, with £347m from the UK Government and The National Lottery invested in summer Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes for the Rio 2016 cycle, UK Sport and the British high performance system has set out to buck this trend. While this aspirational goal presents a huge challenge, it has united and focussed everyone involved in elite sport in the UK behind the ambition and ensured British athletes with their coaches have continued to break new ground since London 2012.

British Olympic sports are aiming for between 39 and 71 medals at their targeted events in 2015, and so far Diving, Fencing, Hockey, Swimming and Taekwondo have met their performance targets for the year. The next few weeks and months will see Athletics and Rowing contest their 2015 World Championships, giving a good indication of how some of Britain’s multi medal potential sports’ preparations for Rio 2016 are progressing. British athletes have so far qualified 117* Olympic quota places for Rio, including both men’s and women’s Hockey teams, four Shooting spots and 10 Sailing classes.

Britain’s Paralympic sports are targeting between 110 and 156 medals in 2015, with Boccia, VI Judo, Disability Shooting and Wheelchair Tennis already having met their target. The IPC Athletics World Championships takes place in Doha in October, and the British team is targeting between 26 and 30 medals. To date, Britain’s Paralympic hopefuls have secured 48* quota places for Rio, including four Para-Equestrian Dressage riders and 11 Swimmers. 

Liz Nicholl, UK Sport Chief Executive, said: “Thanks to the unprecedented investment from our Government and The National Lottery for the Rio cycle, the elite sport legacy of London 2012 is in very good shape. It has allowed us to continue to aspire to make the nation proud through our athletes’ performances, while building a stronger, more sustainable high performance system for future generations. 

“Our athletes are doing more than ever to give back to their communities through more than 12,000 visits to schools and local community sports projects since London 2012 and our #EveryRoadtoRio events series is offering the public a fantastic array of opportunities to witness world class sport on their doorstep.”

Simon Timson, UK Sport Director of Performance, said: “History shows that our aspiration for Rio is a huge challenge, with sporting powerhouse nations like Australia and China experiencing more than 10% drops in their Olympic medal haul following their home Games.

“However, we know from what sports are telling us that doing better than London is within scope and we are using this goal as the driving force to unite, focus and motivate the UK world class system to leave no stone unturned in preparation for Rio.

“This last year of the cycle is when all the innovative expertise in British sport comes to the fore; and while we don’t have the benefit of home advantage, I firmly believe the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations are the best in the world and will create the best possible environment for our athletes in Rio at Games time, giving us a competitive advantage.

“Our position will be clearer following this season’s results and we will set a specific medal target range, in consultation with the sports, just before Rio next year.”

Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch, said: "Our Olympic and Paralympic stars gave us unforgettable performances at London 2012 that made Britain proud. The Rio Games are now on the horizon and the Government and The National Lottery are backing our elite athletes with record investment to help them prepare and succeed in Brazil. Elite sport in Britain continues to thrive and I know the whole country will be right behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB in Rio."

Sir David Tanner, British Rowing's Performance Director to the GB Rowing Team, said: “The aspirational goal set for the whole of British Olympic and Paralympic sport just after the 2012 Games to do better in Rio than London certainly helped focus and motivate minds in the National Lottery funded world class system. It provided a truly extraordinary aim. It will not be easy to achieve, but the GB Rowing Team is determined to play as strong a part as it can. 

“Our World Championships in the first week of September will be a chance to measure our potential contribution a year from now at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since Barcelona ’92 no single nation had won more medals in rowing in a single Olympic Games than Team GB did in London. No-one even came close and so, for us, that bar is incredibly high.” 

Gary Hall, Performance Director at GB Taekwondo, said: “GB Taekwondo has continued to build on the incredible success of London 2012 and is firmly focussed on delivering more great sporting moments for the nation to enjoy at Rio 2016.

“Recent talent identification campaigns run in partnership with UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport have further strengthened our pool of talented athletes with Damon Sansum and Rachelle Booth proving their rich potential by winning medals at the World Championships in Russia as well as, Charlie Maddock at the European Games in Azerbaijan.

“The sustained Government and National Lottery investment since 2012 has ensured GB Taekwondo’s athletes have continued to access world class coaching and training environments and support services meaning we can be confident we will be among the best prepared teams in Rio.”

There are plenty of opportunities for British fans to get behind their athletes in this final year of preparation and qualification for Rio through UK Sport’s #EveryRoadtoRio events series. A number of sports, including Wheelchair Basketball, Equestrian, Canoeing and Gymnastics, will be hoping for a boost from home crowd support at their World or European Championships, which are set to take place in the UK over the coming months. Find out more: #EveryRoadtoRio >

See the Olympic milestone targets for 2015 >

See the Paralympic milestone targets for 2015 >

*correct as at 03/08/15

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