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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Who's on track for Olympic gold?
By Sarah Holt and Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Melbourne

Beijing will host the 2008 Olympics

The Commonwealth Games are over and British competitors came away with a total of 162 medals - 51 gold, 54 silver and 57 bronze.

But how many have a realistic hope of converting that to Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008? BBC Sport assesses the likeliest contenders to celebrate success in China.

ATHLETICS

Of England's six gold medallists in Melbourne only multi-eventers Dean Macey and Kelly Sotherton already have Olympic silverware under their belts.

But both have some work to do if they are to get on the podium again in Beijing.

Macey's decathlon score of 8143 was 589 points behind world champion Bryan Clay's leading score of 2005 and it is crucial the Canvey Islander stays injury-free if he wants to catch up.

Christine Ohuruogu
Ohuruogu gave indications that she can reach the highest level

Sotherton is still the world heptathlon number three behind Carolina Kluft and Eunice Barber but has already conceded she will not win any more major medals if she does not master the javelin and start posting bigger scores.

Melbourne winners Phillips Idowu (triple jump) and Christine Ohuruogu (400m) proved they are not far off world class.

Idowu's leap of 17.45m would have seen him ranked as the world number eight in 2005 while Ohuruogu would have been world number 10.

The fact that it is only March suggests they will make major improvements when they hit their peak in the summer.

There is also reason for optimism in women's 400m hurdling and the 4x400m relay - despite their disqualification - with Tasha Danvers Smith, Lee McConnell and Nicola Sanders getting better all the time.

Martyn Rooney (400m), Lisa Dobriskey (1500m) and Jessica Ennis (heptathlon) all signalled breakthroughs for the next generation of British stars too.

But the men continue to under-achieve on the track, and have a lot of work to do if they are to be medal contenders in Beijing.

BADMINTON

Realistically, the one gold medal hope is Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson. The world's number one ranked pair in the mixed doubles were a class above the rest in Melbourne.

They've improved as a pair since their silver in Athens and, depending on form in the next two years, could arrive in Beijing as the tournament favourites.

BOXING

There is reason for Olympic optimism in the British camp after six golds in the ring in Melbourne.

The vast majority of the fighters that won Commonwealth medals will stay amateur for Beijing but not all of them will qualify through the tough European system for the Olympics.

Jamie Degale
Degale has the ability to improve on his bronze in Melbourne

The absolute class act, according to anyone in the know, is lightweight Frankie Gavin, who coach Terry Edwards believes has the potential to be as good as Amir Khan.

Another stand-out fighter is middleweight Jamie Degale who, despite only picking up the bronze in Melbourne, is thought to have the raw talent to at least match that at Olympic level.

Welterweight Neil Perkins is in his late 20s which could mean he will now hit the professional ranks but, if he doesn't, he has the experience to better anyone in the world. He's currently the world number three.

Commonwealth gold medallist Kenny Anderson, from Scotland, Welsh bronze medallist Mohammed Nasir and England's four other gold medallists, Don Broadhurst, Jamie Cox, Stephen Smith and David Price all have medal chances.

CYCLING

Although British cycling boss Dave Brailsford has refused to get carried away ahead of the Olympics, this is the one event where Britain could potentially dominate.

The scrapping of the men's kilometre time trial, in which Chris Hoy won gold in Athens, is a big blow to the team's ambitions.

England's triumphant pursuit team
A British team in Beijing will face a formidable Australia outfit

But Hoy, along with two of three from Jason Queally, Jamie Staff and Craig McLean, will be among the favourites to win the team sprint.

Bradley Wiggins, who missed the Commonwealth Games, will potentially be the front-runner in the men's pursuit, while Rob Hayles and Paul Manning will also have medals in their sights.

In the team pursuit, it looks set to be a head-to-head with Australia, although the European nations will be in contention.

England's Commonwealth gold medallists, who will make up the British quartet, will be boosted by Wiggins come 2008 but Australia will have a far improved line-up too.

In the women's Victoria Pendleton will already have one eye on the gold in the women's sprint as the current world and Commonwealth champion.

The other leading women's rider will be Nicole Cooke, a bronze medallist in Melbourne but one of the world's best.

GYMNASTICS

Britain's sole world-class gymnast in recent years has been Beth Tweddle.

The 20-year-old, who won gold and silver at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, missed these Games because of an ankle injury picked up in training.

She is ranked sixth in the world and has an outside chance of a medal in the all-around and has a strong chance of medalling on the uneven bars.

Tweddle, though, has not made a decision on whether to carry on until the Beijing Games.

HOCKEY

England are in the process of rebuilding their men and women's teams and will be buoyed by their performances with the women taking bronze and the men settling for fourth.

England will form the core of the Great Britain squads as both the men and the women bid to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

SHOOTING

Britain's shooters didn't win a medal in Athens but had another successful Commonwealth Games with 27 medals between them.

England's large team took 19 of them including six golds though Northern Ireland's David Calvert missed out on a medal for the first time since 1990.

Richard Faulds, who won double trap gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, could only manage bronze in the men's double trap pairs and finished fifth in the individual event.

Mick Gault became the most successful Games athlete ever, winning four in Melbourne to take his tally to 15 - but he's never competed at the Olympics.

England's Charlotte Kerwood from Sheffield Green in East Sussex appears one of the best prospects for Beijing - the 19-year-old won two double trap golds in Melbourne.

SWIMMING

Great Britain bring back 38 swimming medals from Melbourne - exactly the same haul as four years ago.

Simon Burnett
Burnett is well respected by his major competitors

Most of the Manchester medallists have since retired but the 2006 squad have added three more golds and two more silvers which means standards continue to improve.

David Carry and Simon Burnett will be expected to build on their performances in the Games.

100m freestyle champion Burnett was world number four last season but the Arizona-based athlete is the one the leading Americans and Australians genuinely fear.

Scot Carry dramatically improved his time to win gold in the 200m individual medley and sits just outside the world top five. But despite his 400m free gold in Melbourne he is still well below world class in that event.

Caitlin McClatchey is the leading light among the women, winning double gold in the 200m and 400m free.

The 20-year-old has already proven herself at world level, taking 400m bronze at last year's world championships, but more will be expected of her in Beijing

Despite the disappointing time he posted on his way to 1500m freestyle gold in Melbourne, Welshman David Davies will be expected to raise a real challenge to Grant Hackett in Beijing.

Looking further ahead, teenagers Fran Halsall and Hannah Miley will be names to watch in 2012 after impressive senior debuts at a global event.

TRIATHLON

The triathlon is a notoriously open event, which tends to be very dependant on any specific day.

Wales' Leanda Cave had a disappointing swim, cycle and run in Melbourne but ought to be a medal hope.

In the men's Tim Don, who will be 30 by the time Beijing comes around, has a realistic chance as the fourth best in the Commonwealth.

But in both the men's and women's the Australia, New Zealand and Canada teams will all be tough.



Links to more Commonwealth Games stories


 


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