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.



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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine