Team GB to be spared Tokyo Olympic medal target due to year of Covid uncertainty

“It is not a sense of not wanting to see targets or dampening down expectations. There is a still a huge amount of ambition" (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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Britain's Olympic team is set to be spared a medal target in Tokyo due to the Covid pandemic.

Sixteen months ago UK Sport upgraded its target for Team GB in Japan from between 51 and 85 medals to 54 and 92.

But then came the arrival of coronavirus, the sporting world shut down and, in some cases, is only now restarting again.

Against a backdrop of considerable uncertainty and a far from level playing field, Britain’s high performance funding agency are expected to remove the medal target.

Team GB boss Mark England said: “We haven’t set a medal target – and we won’t to be honest. I don’t think UK Sport will either.

“What’s been very obvious over the past 12 months is that it has given an opportunity for young athletes to be stronger and put themselves in contention.

Mark England the Chef de Mission for Team GB
(Image: Getty)

“But it has also been very obvious that any competition data in terms of where we stand against our main competitors across the world really isn’t there.”

England’s words chime with remarks made last week by Katherine Grainger, Olympic great turned chair of UK sport.

“We are incredibly sensitive and aware of the sports’ situations,” she said. “There are a lot of very grown up conversations we have had throughout the pandemic. Where are the sports up to? What are realistic expectations?

UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger
(Image: PA)

“For some, they cannot meet those expectations yet because they haven’t had the international competition.

“There is still a huge amount of ambition,” she stressed. “It is not a sense of not wanting to see targets or dampening down expectations. It is the lack of information that means we cannot set numbers right now.”

Britain has grown into an Olympic superpower over the past three Games, climbing from 10th in the medal table in Athens to fourth in Beijing, third in London and second in Rio in 2016.

Asher-Smith continued her unbeaten season in Florence
(Image: Getty Images)

Whereas Team GB managed only one gold medal at Atlanta in 1996, they won a record 29 at London 2012. Four years on their 67-medal haul was their biggest for 108 years.

Dina Asher-Smith destroyed a high-quality 200 metres field to win by more than half a second in Florence.

Britain's world champion over the distance clocked 22.06 seconds to break Marion Jones' 22-year old meeting record.

It is her fastest ever time outside of championships and confirms she is building nicely towards the Tokyo Olympics.

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