The Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius translates into English as faster, stronger, higher. For the host nation, the 2012 Olympic Games are all about more, more, more.
It may be the third time that London has hosted the Games, having done it in 1908 and 1948, but never have the expectations been as high on Team GB as they try to feed off home advantage to produce their best medal haul in more than a century.
The 146 medals of the 1908 Games is surely a mark that Britain will never come close to matching, especially with the Olympic movement now encompassing so many countries.
Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt said everything has been done to give the 542-strong team the best possible chance for success.
“Our commitment to these athletes is to be the best prepared, best equipped and best supported delegation in British Olympic history,” he said. “We are ready to deliver.” Dominating the cycling, sailing and rowing events, Britain’s haul of 47 medals in Beijing was surely beyond the team’s expectations.
U.K. Sport recently set a target of 48 medals for London, but with the benefit of home advantage, many feel the likely total will be somewhere in the mid 50s.
According to an analysis by Ray Stefani, a professor emeritus at California State University in Long Beach and a man with over 40 years of experience at sports performance, Britain is likely to win 59 medals.
Excluding the two boycotted Games, of 1980 and 1984, every host nation bar one — the USA in 1996 — has increased their medal haul on the previous Olympics.
Britain will be represented in all 26 sports, giving them a statistically better chance to win medals. But around 70 per cent of the team will be appearing in their first Olympics.
GB cycling chief Dave Brailsford told The Guardian that though he does not like to make specific medal predictions, “we have probably got 10 or 11 good shots at the podium and if we can convert 50 per cent of those into medals, not necessarily gold medals, that would be reasonable.” The rowers are “hopeful” of eclipsing the six medals they won in Beijing, while the sailors, led by Ben Ainslie, who will be looking to win gold in his fourth straight Games, believe they have “legitimate” chances of medals in all 10 categories.
In athletics, where Britain has struggled in recent times, the target is eight medals, while swimmers like double gold medallist from Beijing, Rebecca Adlington, will be favourite for more.
Tennis player Andy Murray, triathletes Jonny and Alistair Brownlee, the equestrian team, the gymnasts, the judo stars and all of the 26 sports on show could yield medals for the host nation.
Professor Simon Shibli, the head of Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre, predicts Team GB will win 56 medals in total.
“Host nation advantage provides a quantifiable benefit. Influences such as home crowd support, familiarity with venues and enhanced scores in subjectively judged sports, such as gymnastics and diving, will positively affect performance,” he told the BBC.
Team GB’s stated aim is to repeat their fourth-place finish from Beijing and increase their medal haul. With a fair wind, a bit of luck and that home support, they could just do it.
Keywords: 2012 London Olympics