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British athletes are on course for their most successful modern Summer and Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo 2020 and PyeongChang 2018, high performance agency UK Sport has said.
Closing the World Class Performance Conference in Manchester on Wednesday, UK Sport Director of Performance Chelsea Warr revealed new figures showing that British teams collectively won more major medals this year than the equivalent years in the run up to London 2012 (2009) and Rio 2016 (2013).
In Olympic sports, highlights included Max Whitlock retaining his world Gymnastics Pommel title and becoming the first ever Briton to win back-to-back golds. Britain also broke new ground in winning medals in all four relays at the World Athletics Championship in London; won five medals for the first time at the World Taekwondo Championships, a best ever result for GB; and finished second in the medal table at the Swimming World Championships, the team’s best ever placing.
In Paralympic sports Dimitri Coutya became a double world champion in Wheelchair Fencing; the Para Athletics team exceeded their target in winning 39 medals, including 18 golds, at their highly successful home World Championships; and the newly formed Rowing PR3 mixed four put in a dominant performance over the new 2km distance at their world championships in Sarasota.
Each year UK Sport agrees with governing bodies which major global and European competitions are the most appropriate milestone targets to assess progress on the road to the next Olympics and Paralympics and what the range of medal possibilities at those Games will be. With 97 per cent of events now completed, the aggregated data shows that 41 major World and European medals were achieved by British teams this year in Olympic sports, firmly within the expected range of 28-55. In Paralympic sports, 87 major medals were won, which was significantly above the expected range of 54-81.
The results show that British teams and athletes are firmly on track to build on their record-breaking Rio performances where Team GB won 67 Olympic medals, their best results in more than a century. Paralympics GB are also on track to outperform their Rio results where they won 147 medals, the best performance since National Lottery funding began in the 1990s. The milestone achievements of winter sports also show that both teams are also on track for more successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang next year than Sochi in 2014.
Speaking to high performance sport leaders, coaches and practitioners at the conference, Warr acknowledged that the high performance system had rightly “been questioned like never before” on issues of culture and integrity and that this had been an “uncomfortable time for everyone”. However, she stressed that the results this year were also “remarkable and unprecedented” and that work to strengthen world class programmes, including the new system-wide culture health check and initiatives to further improve athlete welfare, will help to “deliver even more medals and medallists to inspire the nation in PyeongChang, Tokyo and beyond”.
“You and your athletes have had an unbelievably successful year, in fact you have made history once again compared to year one of any Olympic and Paralympic cycle to date,” she said. “Not a single sport missed its milestone target this year. Furthermore, a higher percentage of sports have not only met, but exceeded their milestone target in this year of the cycle than ever before. These are the facts. With your continued world class support, your athletes can be confident that they are on track to do something extraordinarily inspirational for the nation again.”