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Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 18:37 UK

Tomlinson upbeat on GB medal haul

By Sarah Holt

Chris Tomlinson and Jonathan Edwards
Tomlinson and Edwards expect Britain's athletes to deliver

Long jumper Chris Tomlinson is confident Britain can meet their five-medal target at the Beijing Olympics despite a crop of injuries.

Medal hope Jessica Ennis is out while Paula Radcliffe remains a major doubt. But Tomlinson, one of the favourites in his event, remains optimistic.

"It will be more difficult to get five without Paula and Jessica but hopefully we can get close," he told BBC Sport.

"We won five medals at [March's] World Indoors and we have to build on that."

UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins has slated a medal target of five for this summer's Beijing Games.

But even that modest haul looked in doubt following Ennis's withdrawal from the heptathlon because of an ankle injury and marathon favourite Radcliffe's continuing struggle with a stress fracture.

However, Tomlinson, who is amongst Britain's medal contenders, believes Britain's maturing squad can bring back some silverware from China.

"We've still got some strong favourites," said the 26-year-old.

"The team progressed at last year's World Championships and the World Indoors so I think we can be in and around that mark.

We've got to be very realistic when we go to Beijing - it's going to be very tough

Chris Tomlinson

"Paula is an out-and-out gold medal favourite and her injury is such a great shame.

"And now [defending champion] Carolina Kluft is out of the heptathlon, I believe that Jessica Ennis could have even won the Olympic title but equally Kelly Sotherton is in the same position.

"One of our big problems is that we've had the likes of Steve Backley, Jonathan Edwards and Colin Jackson retire within the last five or six years and it takes time for people to fill the boots of those athletes.

"But I think we are starting to now. Athletes are emerging through the ranks and their performances are starting to show ahead of the Olympics."

Jonathan Edwards, who won triple jump gold at the 2000 Olympics before retiring three years later, is also cautiously optimistic that the next generation of athletes will step up and deliver in Beijing.

"We've got to be very realistic when we go to Beijing - it's going to be very tough," Edwards said.

"Despite some injury problems with Paula and Jessica, I still think that overall it will be a positive Games for us.


"There've been some very good world performances already this year but also across all the disciplines, men and women, by British athletes.

"I think Phillips Idowu will get the podium in the triple jump and [400m runner] Christine Ohuruogu will medal - she's a great championship performer.

"Goldie Sayers [javelin] and Kelly Sotherton [heptathlon] and our men's 4x100m relay team are all in with a chance."

Edwards is also hoping his former Gateshead team-mate Tomlinson, who is coached by his mentor Peter Stanley, can build on his World Indoor silver medal in Beijing.

"For Chris it's going to be very, very tough," said Edwards. "He's probably one of seven or eight or even 10 athletes who feel they can medal.

"But on the day he's at the top end, which could put him in that position and it depends on a high performance on the day - so it is an opportunity."

Tomlinson and Edwards were speaking at the launch of the Aviva British Grand Prix, which will be held in Gateshead on 31 August.

see also
Team GB for Beijing
29 Nov 07 |  Team GB
Athletics on the BBC
05 Nov 07 |  Athletics
Idowu in triple jump rank boost
07 Jun 08 |  Athletics
Ennis injury ends Beijing dream
02 Jun 08 |  Athletics
Injury 'bombshell' hits Radcliffe
22 May 08 |  Athletics
Tomlinson claims long jump silver
08 Mar 08 |  Athletics
Idowu leaps to triple jump gold
09 Mar 08 |  Athletics
British pair impress in Germany
02 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Tomlinson breaks long jump record
08 Jul 07 |  Athletics

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