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Team GB chiefs defend Olympic tally of one medal

Amy Williams gold medal for Britain

The cost of medals at the Winter Olympics

By Lewis Wiltshire
BBC Sport in Vancouver

British Olympic bosses have defended Team GB's achievements at the Winter Olympics following criticism that they have won just one medal so far.

Short track speed skater Jon Eley provides GB's sole realistic chance of adding to Amy Williams' skeleton gold.

"We have achieved what we set out to do," said Team GB chief Andy Hunt.

"We never set a target. We just said 'better than Turin'. Amy's gold checked off that objective. We would have liked more but that is a good outcome."

Eley competes in his final event, the 500m, in Vancouver on Friday.

You can't blame the athletes at all - none of them are going out there and thinking fifth or sixth is OK

Sir Steve Redgrave

In the Turin Olympics four years ago, Shelley Rudman's silver, also in skeleton, was Britain's sole medal.

UK Sport, the governing body which decides how much funding Olympic athletes receive, set a target for Team GB of three medals of any colour but Hunt is happy his team has gone one better this time.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, vice-president of the British Olympic Association, was alongside Hunt at the briefing for British media in Vancouver.

He added: "I don't think there is a sense of disappointment - I think there is a sense of celebration of winning that gold medal. I would take one gold medal over five bronze medals any day.

"The team has performed amazingly well. The expectation was that we had six medal chances, but we have only delivered one so far. Is that a disappointment? Can you say we had six bolt-on medal chances? I think the answer is probably No.

"We have had one medal so far and, excellent as that is, we are not that surprised. You can't blame the athletes at all - none of them are going out there and thinking fifth or sixth is OK."

However, Hunt said the BOA would launch a "strategic review" after the Olympics, and admitted that his organisation could support funding being even more channelled towards genuine medal hopes than it currently is.

"There is an opportunity to consolidate funding to focus on certain winter sports," he admitted.

Skeleton has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of that funding model so far - taking £2.110m out of a total budget of £5.822m from UK Sport for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic cycle.

Adam Pengilly, a skeleton athlete who has just been elected to the IOC athletes' commission, said: "To go from one to three medals in one Games given the level of funding was always going to be difficult.

"We have to get the funding right and make sure the governing bodies do govern. If you have funding you can extend your athletic career."

The challenge for us now is to make sure the home team is really at the centre of the Games because the Games will largely be judged by the success of the home team

Andy Hunt
BOA chief executive

Hunt pointed out that 64% of the GB team in Canada are competing at their first Olympics, and 17% are 21 or under.

The BOA says its research suggests most medal wins come at an athlete's second Games, so they are already looking towards Sochi 2014 in Russia.

Hunt said: "One gold is a tremendous achievement. This is not like the Summer Olympics - these are unpredictable sports. The funding we get is minimal and we have given a lot of the athletes the opportunity to compete at their first Games."

According to Hunt, also the BOA chief executive, there were two other objectives aside from bettering Turin - personal bests for as many GB athletes as possible, and gaining key lessons for London's summer Olympics in 2012.

"There have been eight personal bests," Hunt said. "We have had seven top 10 placements - we had nine in Turin so we are just short of that but we're not through yet and there could be more."

Although two of those top 10 placements come in curling, where only 10 teams compete, Hunt pointed out that the British curlers still had to qualify in both the men's and women's events.

In terms of London, Hunt said the enormous enthusiasm the population of Vancouver, and Canada in general, have shown for these Olympics, could be a double-edged sword.

"All of us have been totally amazed by the way the Canadian nation have been absolutely entwined with these Games, and [organising committee] Vanoc and the Canada team have also been right there at the centre of the Games.

"The challenge for us now is to make sure the home team is really at the centre of the Games because the Games will largely be judged by the success of the home team.

"But we have seen the flip side of that - the huge expectations set for the Canadian athletes beyond what they have achieved.

"The pressure on [Canadian skeleton athlete] Melissa Hollingsworth was really immense. So you also have to manage the disadvantages of being at home."



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Latest medal standings

# Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1. CAN 14 7 5 26
2. GER 10 13 7 30
3. USA 9 15 13 37
4. NOR 9 8 6 23
5. KOR 6 6 2 14
19. GBR 1 0 0 1

Full medal table


see also
Redgrave plans winter sports base
25 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Williams slides to British gold
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
GB's Pengilly elected to IOC post
25 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
GB men's curlers out after defeat
25 Feb 10 |  Curling
Canada women seal GB curling exit
23 Feb 10 |  Curling
Gold for Canada as GB 1 crash out
25 Feb 10 |  Bobsleigh


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