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Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 13:47 UK

GB on course for 2012 Olympics glory, says UK Sport

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Britain 'bang on-track'for 2012 according to UK Sport

Britain are on course for a top-four finish in the Olympics and second-place finish in the Paralympics, according to UK Sport's latest Mission 2012 update.

The body which funds the majority of Britain's Olympic sports told BBC Sport the team is "bang on-track" to succeed with two years until the Games begin.

"Our Mission 2012 tracker shows we are on track to achieve our targets," said UK Sport chief executive John Steele.

It has also been revealed that tennis will join the Mission 2012 programme.

While tennis, like football, receives no UK Sport funding despite its berth in the Olympics, the sport has volunteered to submit to the same quarterly scrutiny of its performance, which assesses sports' training systems, athletes and the climate in which they operate.

Using their traffic-light ratings to assess the progress being made by the 27 individual events, UK Sport reported nine were rated green overall, while none were rated red.

OLLIE WILLIAMS' BLOG

Those figures remained unchanged from the last quarter, although synchronised swimming was no longer rated green because of injuries to key athletes.

That was offset by the success of taekwondo, which delivered the maximum target of four medals at the European Championships.

Most sports' target events have yet to take place this year, but those that have all achieved at least their minimum goals.

In the 18 Paralympic sports assessed, six received an overall green rating, with none rated red.

The British Olympic Association (BOA), which will be responsible for Team GB at London 2012, said it would not shy away from UK Sport's top-four target but labelled a top-six finish its initial objective.

"We need to hold ourselves back from banging the table about a top-four position until we can be sure it can be delivered," BOA Chief Executive Andy Hunt told the London Evening Standard .

"I'm not saying we won't achieve fourth but my aspiration today, two years out, is top six.

"As we go through the journey I hope to share that increased comfort in achieving what we achieved in Beijing."

Britain finished fourth in the Olympic medals table at the 2008 Beijing Games, and second in the Paralympic table.

But the BOA is concerned countries like Australia and Russia - whose summer athletes are under pressure after Russian winter athletes struggled at Vancouver 2010 - will provide stiffer opposition in 2012.

However, the British have also been raising their game according to UK Sport.

Sports such as cycling and boxing have shown they are capable of performing at the highest level, with cycling winning eight medals at the Track World Championships and boxing winning five medals in their target event, the European Championships.

There has also been a recent run of firsts for British athletes in Olympic sports.

England's women's hockey team, the vast majority of whom will represent Britain in 2012, won their first Champions Trophy medal in Nottingham at the weekend, while modern pentathlon's Sam Weale won Britain's first ever men's individual medal at the European Championships.

Hockey highlights - England win bronze

"We are continuing to see British elite level sport rise to the challenge that comes with a home Games," added Steele, who will shortly leave UK Sport to become the new chief executive of the Rugby Football Union.

"Successful British athletes in London will not only inspire a generation of young sportsmen and women in this country, but will also be a key indicator as to whether we have hosted a successful Games.

"The progress we are making makes me confident that we will deliver when it matters in two years' time.

"In 2010, we have already seen the likes of boxing, which had red elements leading into Beijing, have their best result in a European Championships for almost 50 years.

"And sports such as triathlon, canoeing and gymnastics have current world or European champions within their squads.

"Mission 2012 suggests that these high level results will continue throughout 2010 and I am optimistic that, with two years to go, British sport could not be in a better position to succeed."

Regarding the introduction of tennis to Mission 2012, Steele added: "Tennis have approached us and, at the next quarterly (briefing on the project), there will be a submission from tennis.

"They will have gone through the process that other Olympic sports go through.

"There's no funding connected with that but they've approached us and I think it demonstrates that this isn't about big stick and how you spend your money, it's about sharing performance best practice."

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see also
GB hopeful of success
20 Jul 10 |  Athletics
'Cuts will not damage 2012 Games'
27 May 10 |  Olympics
Olympic budget cut by 27m
24 May 10 |  London
Stevenson and Cook win Euro golds
15 May 10 |  Taekwondo


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