Sir Steve Redgrave denies Team GB medal target adds unnecessary pressure


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The Independent Online

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave denied Team GB's 48-medal target will pile unnecessary pressure on athletes at London 2012.

UK Sport yesterday announced the intended mark of at least one more medal than the 47 won in Beijing, with a "goal" of the host nation maintaining the fourth place in the medal table achieved four years ago.

Redgrave is confident the British Olympians will be able to achieve that feat and does not believe UK Sport's announcement puts those competing under any extra pressure.

"I don't think it makes any difference to be honest," Redgrave told Press Association Sport.

"It's very much of knuckling down to what you're involved in. I was involved in the Atlanta Games where we only got one gold medal and we won that in the middle weekend.

"You knew that the team overall wasn't doing very well but we did win more silver medals than we had done for many, many years, and that's what it is - a very fine line between taking a gold or a silver or a lesser medal or a high place so it's tough."

The former oarsman, no stranger to the winner's podium himself after success in 1984 through to 2000, is hoping for a number north of 50, and believes the talent is there across all sports to meet expectation.

He said: "My gut feeling has been that it would be nice to get 50-plus so that's pretty close to it, so I would hope that we're just into the 50s.

"I think we will get into the 50s but it's a tough ask. We did so well in Beijing and to try and move up on that will be very difficult, especially on the gold medal tally. Nineteen last time was a nice number in some ways because it was still in the teens but if we can get into the 20s it sounds so much better."

And Redgrave will be supporting one GB competitor in particular - sailor and three-time gold medallist Ben Ainslie.

Ainslie has competed at the last four Olympic Games and claimed a medal at each, and Redgrave now believes the 35-year-old should gain more recognition for his achievements.

"He's got such a great record and hasn't really been recognised for what he has done really," Redgrave said.

"That's taking nothing away from Sir Chris Hoy but Chris was lucky enough to be involved in a discipline where you can do more than one event at a Games.

"Ben is recognised to be the best Olympic sailor that has ever sailed but hasn't had the same level of recognition so hopefully when he wins his fourth gold medal, he's also got a silver as well, that he will be recognised in the right way."