Mark England has stopped short of delivering an exact medal target amid a tumultuous build-up to the Tokyo Games where athletes have seen their training and competition schedules affected; the Olympics start on July 23 and run until August 8
By Geraint Hughes, Joe Tanner
Last Updated: 15/07/21 9:18am
Team GB’s Chef de Mission Mark England believes Great Britain can compete for medals in a “significant number” of events at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Since 2004 in Athens when Britain picked up 30 medals and finished 10th in the overall rankings, the total haul has increased vastly every four years, firstly to 51 medals in Beijing in 2008, then to 65 at London 2012, and British athletes made the podium 67 times at Rio 2016.
UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday has set a target of between 45 and 70 medals this summer, a broad range given the lack of available data caused by a lockdown sporting calendar.
Preparations for athletes have been dominated by curtailed training and event schedules because of the pandemic, as well as the fact the Games have been pushed back a year.
Because of these factors, England is reluctant to place an exact figure on the number of medals GB will be aiming to win between July 23 and August 8.
He told Sky Sports News: “I think when you look at the programme, there’s over 300 medal events and you go through that in a fair bit of detail.
“You determine how many of those GB is medal competitive in. I wouldn’t necessarily put a number on it, but I think we are medal competitive in a significant number of sports.
“It’s our collective responsibility to make sure we get the infrastructure in place in the country to trigger and turn that medal competitiveness into actual medals.
“Seeing the environment as I have seen it now having been here for just over a week, looking at the support we’ve got from the local community, how we’re operating in terms of our Covid mitigation, our health and safety and all the rest of it, I think this team will be very, very competitive.”
Britain are bringing a 376-strong squad to Tokyo where strict coronavirus protocols are in place amid the city’s state of emergency which has been imposed ahead of the Games because of a rise in infections. Events in the Japanese capital will also be held behind closed doors.
Team GB’s Chef de Mission says athletes are coping well with the adjustments and extensive rules so far despite what has been a tumultuous build-up to the postponed Olympics.
He added: “It’s been really good. When we arrived we weren’t quite sure how we would be met by the local population, there’s some nervousness from them regarding the Delta variant back in the UK.
“But everyone here has been so fantastic in supporting us.
“Our protocols are strict, when we’re indoors and in close contact it’s 100 per cent wearing a mask and our protocols are very, very tight across the whole team but it’s gone really really well.
“We have over 400 people in the country now, over 150 athletes and that will build and build over the next few days and thanks to the local population we’re in a great position going into the Games.”
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