UK Sport set medal target
Britain's athletes have been set a target of 48 medals at the London Olympics - just one more than in Beijing - with UK Sport saying as many as 70 medals could be won by the host team.
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UK Sport, which distributes Lottery and public money to Olympic sports, today announced the target of at least one more medal than the 47 won in Beijing, with a "goal" of Team GB maintaining the fourth place in the medal table achieved four years ago.
A medal range of between 40 and 70 medals means that the target of 48 is fairly unambitious - with somewhere in the mid-50s a probable outcome.
Other forecasts have pointed to Britain winning above 60 medals but UK Sport insisted they are not trying to downplay expectations.
UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl said: "The target is at least 48 medals - because that's what we achieved in Beijing. That's our target and our commitment is to do better than we did in Beijing."
She admitted that if Team GB failed to do better than Beijing and were close to the bottom of the predicted range, that would be a sign of failure.
Nicholl added: "If it was 40 medals we would be incredibly disappointed, the system will have underperformed if we achieve 40 medals.
"The number of medals is more important to us than coming fourth in the medals table.
"The top of the range is what is possible but not probable, and that is the same for the bottom of the range.
"At least 48 medals sits very comfortably within that range."
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson added: "If we did not achieve the target we would want to understand why and where it went wrong.
"The majority of people will not judge the success of this by how smoothly the transport system runs but where we finish in the medal table.
"British high performance sport is in a very good place indeed but it falls to me to put a health warning on all of this - do not forget there are tiny fractions of a second between success and failure."
The official Olympics medal table is calculated by the number of golds won - Britain won 19 in Beijing, a significant proportion of the total - so that would need to be at least matched in London to maintain fourth spot.
The goal of fourth place is a reflection of the transformation of British Olympic sport from the days of Atlanta in 1996 when only two golds were won, and even the improvements in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 when Team GB finished 10th in the medal table.
The ambition of finishing fourth in London was first announced in 2006 and achieved four years ahead of schedule in Beijing.
UK Sport chairman Sue Campbell insisted that finishing fourth again was "very realistic" despite recent warnings from British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan that it will be "incredibly tough" to hold off the challenge of Australia and Germany.
Robertson has been confident enough, however, to bet his Australian counterpart Kate Lundy that Britain will win more golds.
If he wins, she will have to row down the Eton Dorney lake in a Team GB top; if he loses, Robertson will have to play hockey in Australia House wearing an Australia shirt.
UK Sport have also set a target that at least 12 sports should win a medal compared to 11 in Beijing, and in London 20 sports are targeting medals compared to 14 in Beijing.
It will be less easy for some sports to replicate the 2008 success, however. Cycling won 14 medals, including eight golds, in Beijing but changes to the events means that will not be possible this time around.
Football is also not included in the medal targets as London is a one-off Games for the British men's and women's teams, both of whom have a decent chance of a medal.