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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 17:35 GMT
BOA bullish on 2012 medal target
By Tom Fordyce

Kelly Holmes
Kelly Holmes' two golds helped Team GB to 10th in Athens
British Olympic chiefs insist they are sticking to their much-criticised target of fourth place in the medal table at the London 2012 Games.

Team GB failed to improve on its world ranking of seventh in 2006, with GB athletics slipping from 16th to 34th.

BOA chief executive Simon Clegg said: "We believe fourth place is still a realistic target.

"But we have to see athletics make a significant contribution, and see them step up to the plate."

The BOA's annual progress report, which uses results from the different Olympic sports to estimate where Team GB would finish in a hypothetical medal table, reveals that the team would again take seventh place - the same as a year ago.

Last month UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner criticised the BOA's 2012 forecast, saying: "It is an awful long way from where we are now. I refuse to be hanged on that target."

But Clegg said: "We were still able to secure seventh despite what one might describe as a very modest contribution from athletics.

TEAM GB WORLD RANKINGS 2006
Athletics: 34th (down from 16th)
Swimming: 19th (up from 20th)
Cycling: 12th (down from 1st)
Equestrian: 4th (same position)
Gymnastics: 7th (up from 16th)
Rowing: 2nd (same position)
Sailing: 2nd (up from 3rd)

"We are not showing any yellow cards, but of course we'd like to see swimming and athletics contribute a higher level than at the moment.

"They (UK Athletics) are exceptionally focused, and understand that they have to turn their sport around - the performance levels have been disappointing."

Former GB athletics great Colin Jackson has said it would take a "miracle" for Britain to win a single track and field gold in 2012.

Clegg admitted: "In the eyes of the man or woman on the street, London 2012 will not be judged a success by how good the transport plan is, or how beautiful the venues look, but by how many medals are hanging round British necks.

"All the Olympic sports know that they must deliver in 2012 - it's the biggest challenge for a generation.

"But the whole Olympic family signed up to that target."

At the Athens Olympics in 2004, Britain finished 10th in the medal table with nine golds, nine silvers and 12 bronze.

To take fourth then, Team GB would have had to beaten Australia's 17 gold, 16 silver and 16 bronze - an enormous leap.

Simon Clegg
Clegg remains optimistic about 2012 despite severe criticism

But BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said: "We're totally committed to fourth place - and I believe we can deliver it.

"We have a unique opportunity as the host nation in 2012, and the funding is there to match our aspirations."

Such is British sport's obsession with London 2012 that the BOA admit next year's Olympics in Beijing are being viewed as little more than a staging-post en route to London four years later.

In contrast to the forecast for 2012, no medal target has been set by the BOA for Beijing.

Moynihan said: "I'm not suggesting that Beijing is not critically important, but it is a stepping stone to 2012.

"What we want to see is progress from all the Olympic bodies. It is not primarily medal-driven.

"There is some outstanding talent at junior level that could be there in 2012, and we believe the really important issue is to make sure that that talent is not lost.

"UK Athletics don't need to be told to focus on that. They are focused on that and everything we are doing is focused on delivering that fourth place."

The BOA say they are encouraged by the fact that 13 different sports contributed to Team GB's final position in the 2006 rankings, compared to nine in 2005.

Eight of these sports - archery, badminton, equestrian, gymnastics, judo, rowing, triathlon and sailing - now see Britain ranked in the world's top 10.

Britain also currently has nine world champions across seven summer Olympic sports.

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