The Independent's golden hopes for 2012: 30-21

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

PART 1 of 3: On Wednesday there will be 100 days to go to the Olympics. To celebrate, Robin Scott-Elliot and Simon Turnbull count down Britain's 30 best gold-medal chances, starting with 30-21

30 Yamile Aldama, Athletics

This time last year the veteran triple jumper was not even in the British team and not in the frame for Olympic medal contention, having given birth to her second child in the summer of 2010. Fifth place at the outdoor World Championships in Daegu last year, with little training and only a UK Women's League outing, hinted at what was to come at the world indoors in Istanbul last month. At 39, Aldama became the oldest ever British global track and field champion, jumping 14.82m. Fourth for her native Cuba at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and fifth for Sudan in Athens four years later, the Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier and long-time Wembley resident has emerged as serious contender not just for any medal in her adopted home town but for the gold.

29 Louis Smith, Gymnastics

The 22-year-old is at the forefront of a British gymnastic revival. Between the men's and women's team and individual events, the hosts could garner a number of medals but Smith represents their best chance of actually going all the way and claiming gold. He also has a pretty good chance of falling flat, literally. Smith's routine on the pommel horse is the world's most difficult but if he gets it right then he will be within touching distance of gold. There have been hiccups since he won Britain's first individual medal for a century in Beijing. He has twice fallen off at high-profile events, including the 2009 world championships, but everything clicked into place when he won the test event last year.

28 Tom Daley, Diving

A good run of improving scores in the world series suggests the 17-year-old is closing the gap on Qui Bo, the Chinese world champion. Daley's Olympic year began with him on the receiving end of an unwarranted and very public verbal assault by Alexei Evangulov, Britain's performance director but the pair have resolved their differences and Daley is diving at his highest level since winning the world crown three years ago. He has made a largely impressive start to the world series in both the synchro event, in partnership with Pete Waterfield, and the individual. It would probably need Bo to have an off day and Daley, with the lift of home support, his best but it is a sport where the tiniest slip can have dramatic consequences.

27 Luke Campbell, Boxing

There is an air of quiet optimism surrounding British boxing at their base the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, with medal hopes across the men's and women's teams. It is a difficult sport to forecast but Campbell, a 24-year-old bantamweight from Hull, is perhaps the best bet to finish on top of a podium. He qualified by reaching the last eight at last year's world championships in Azerbaijan and demonstrated why he is so highly thought of by going on to reach the final, where he finished with silver after losing against Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba. Campbell, the first Englishman to win the European championships for nearly half a century, has delayed turning pro in order to make up for failing to earn selection for Beijing.

26 Three-day event team, Equestrian

The selection for the equestrian team is not made until a matter of weeks before the Games – to ensure the most in-form horse/rider combinations are chosen – but whoever is picked for the quartet that represents Britain in the event team, they will be expected to push for gold. Britain are the current world champions after William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Nicola Wilson and Tina Cook took gold in Kentucky in 2010. In Beijing, they won bronze to continue Britain's recent Olympic tradition of being close but not close enough – the two previous Games had brought British silver. Not since 1972 have Britain won this event but on home soil, with some experienced heads to choose from, there is a good chance of minding that gap.

25 Phillips Idowu, Athletics

The Hackney boy could emerge as the local hero in the showpiece track and field arena. In Beijing four years ago, Idowu finished 5cm short of the triple jump gold in the silver-medal position. The 33-year-old has two hugely talented young rivals to contend with. Teddy Tamgho of France and Christian Taylor of the United States both went close to the 18m mark last year. Tamgho, though, missed the World Championships with a broken ankle and has been suspended by the French federation until next month after an unseemly altercation with a female athlete at a national training camp. Taylor relegated Idowu to silver at the outdoor world championships last summer but was himself beaten at the world indoors last month.

24 Women's hockey

Both the men's and women's team have enjoyed a renaissance over the last few years and each goes into the Games, which will be played on distinctive blue pitches, ranked fourth in the world and with medal prospects. But of the two, it is Kate Walsh's team that is attracting the most global attention. They finished runner's up in last month's Champions Trophy and left Argentina with the coach of the host nation, who won the event, and the captain of the Dutch side, the defending Olympic champions, suggesting Britain have a burgeoning chance. "They have improved a lot in the last two or three years and can win gold," said Maartje Paumen, who led the Netherlands to victory in Beijing against – take note – a host nation who played above themselves on home soil.

23 Women's 470 Sailing

February figures strongly in Hannah Mills's life; she was born on the 29th of the month and it was last February she first teamed up with Saskia Clark (whose on-shore other half is Paul Goodison) in the 470. Since then they have installed themselves as gold contenders with Ben Ainslie predicting the pair will win in Weymouth. They took silver at the world championships last year, an event they entered to fine-tune their partnership, rather than go for gold. Clark is the senior partner, aged 32 she has eight years on Mills. She finished sixth in Beijing in the 470 and afterwards teamed up with Sarah Ayton, one the "blondes in a boat", but Ayton's sudden retirement left a space in her boat – one which the Cardiff-born Mills appears to have filled nicely.

22 Paul Goodison, Sailing

The Sheffield United supporter won laser gold in Beijing and, despite a disappointing world championships last year, is a strong contender to repeat the feat in home waters. Goodison finished fifth in Perth, and behind British team-mate Nick Thompson, who won silver, but Goodison had already been chosen for the Games – in sailing entry is limited to one per nation per class. In the build up to the Olympics, it is more about preparation than placing; as Goodison says, there is only one medal that counts. The 34-year-old, who was spurred to Olympic gold by the memory of finishing fourth in Athens 2004, is a world champion from 2010 and is currently ranked two in the world. With his Beijing experience and local know-how, he will be hard to beat in Weymouth.

21 Dai Greene, Athletics

Greene produced a never-say-die finish to strike 400m hurdles gold at the World Championships in Daegu last summer, judging his effort to perfection. The Swansea Harrier has acquired a winning habit on the major championship stage, having pocketed the European and Commonwealth titles in 2010. He stands to become the first Welsh athlete to win Olympic track and field gold since Lynn Davies leaped to a surprise long-jump victory in Tokyo in 1964. Expect the Americans to raise their game this summer – they always do in the 400m hurdles in Olympic year – but expect Greene to keep on improving also. He has far from exhausted his potential under the guidance of Colin Jackson's old hurdles guru, Malcolm Arnold.

CLICK HERE FOR THE INDEPENDENT'S GOLDEN HOPES FOR 2012: 10-1

CLICK HERE FOR THE INDEPENDENT'S GOLDEN HOPES FOR 2012: 20-11

Golds: Britain's tally

2008 19
2004 9
2000 11
1996 1
1992 5
1988 5
1984 5
1980 5
 

As hosts
1908 56
1948 3

2008 gold winners

Nicole Cooke cycling, road race

Men's team sprint cycling

Bradley Wiggins cycling, individual pursuit

Sir Chris Hoy cycling, keirin

Rebecca Romero cycling, individual pursuit

Men's team pursuit cycling

Victoria Pendleton cycling, sprint

Sir Chris Hoy cycling, sprint

Men's coxless four rowing

Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase rowing, lightweight double sculls

Rebecca Adlington swimming, (below) 400m freestyle

Rebecca Adlington swimming, 800m freestyle

Christine Ohuruogu athletics, 400m

Tim Brabants canoeing, K1

Women's yngling sailing

Ben Ainslie sailing, Finn

Paul Goodison sailing, Laser

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson sailing, star

James DeGale boxing, middleweight

News
people
Sport
Yaya Sanogo celebrates scoring the opening goal with Arsenal's English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
champions leagueLive: All the latest from the Emirates and Bulgaria, where Liverpool face Ludogorets
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire