Sutcliffe calls for golden return on government investment

Britain's Minister for Sport is not alone in expecting success from the best prepared Olympic team ever to leave these islands, writes Paul Newman

Gerry Sutcliffe, the Minister for Sport, talked yesterday about the need for Britain's Olympians to provide a return on the £500m invested in them. Perhaps he had noticed that it was exactly 100 years ago that the country finished an Olympics with its record medals haul and at minimal cost.

Britain won 146 medals, including 56 golds, at the 1908 Olympics, which were held in London after Rome pulled out following an explosion of Mount Vesuvius. It helped that entries were thin – five of the six competitors in the motorboating were British and there were no overseas competitors whatsoever in the rackets tournament – but the return was still good value. The budget for the Games was just £20,000, of which a third was spent on banquets.

A century later the British Olympic Association is refusing to set a medals target, but officials know that questions will be asked if its team does not deliver. UK Sport, which distributes Lottery funding to elite performers, told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises Government spending, that it expects 35 medals and an eighth-place finish in the table.

That would be a significant improvement on the 30 medals and 10th place in Athens four years ago, but Sutcliffe believes it is a reasonable target, given the unprecedented levels of funding that have ensured Britain is sending its best prepared team ever.

"If you look at it from public finance, we've put £500m into elite sports and what we've got to try and do is make sure there's a recovery of that in terms of the outcomes," the minister said. "It wasn't a target that we put to UK Sport. UK Sport themselves decided that's what we should expect from the amount of investment that's gone in.

"I think people have recognised the amount of investment that has gone into sport over the last 10 years, but they will certainly measure that by outcomes and that's why these Games will be important because we've handed the opportunity to give the athletes time to train."

Simon Clegg, the BOA's chef de mission, said here yesterday at the British team's pre-Olympic launch that he expected "an extremely successful Games". Colin Moynihan, the chairman, said he would be looking to the team to improve on Athens, given that they were "better prepared, better financed and better resourced than ever".

Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director, stressed that he had not set a medals target for his riders but added: "We have to move forward. We have a well-financed and well-organised elite system and we have to look at improving. I would think it unacceptable if we didn't move forward."

Led by cycling, sailing and rowing, which have provided the backbone of success at the last two Olympics, the British team are being tipped in some quarters to enjoy their best Games for 100 years. The biggest haul since London in 1908 came 12 years later at Antwerp, where Britain won 43 medals.

This year's British team comprises 313 athletes in 20 of the 28 sports (there are no entries in table tennis, wrestling, football, basketball, volleyball, handball, softball or baseball), a 15 per cent increase on Athens.

Most will stay in the athletes' village, which Clegg described as the best he had seen. "It's an amazing Olympic village and certainly raises the bar for future organising committees," he said.

Each arriving Briton attends a welcoming presentation, which includes a motivational film. "We remind them that they are joining a very exclusive club," Clegg said. "Since the modern Games began only 6,519 people have represented Great Britain. Money can't buy a place in it."

The BOA is also bringing over 160 youngsters representing some of Britain's best medal hopes for 2012. Its Olympic Ambition Programme has attracted the interest of other countries and Chicago is already looking at a similar scheme as part of its bid to host the 2016 Games. "If you can bring these young hopefuls here and allow them to become immersed in the Games and see what it takes to win medals, then I think that will be very helpful for them in the future," Clegg said.

Moynihan said that other countries were looking to follow Britain's stance on drugs, with Dwain Chambers the latest victim of the BOA's policy of lifetime Olympic bans on drugs cheats. "We have to be ahead of the game," he said. "The challenge is to make sure there is more competition between athletes than between chemists' laboratories."

Brailsford welcomed more rigorous drug testing and said the best news in cycling was that a new generation of riders was determined to keep the sport clean. "They are looking out and pointing their fingers at people who may be doping," he said. "That's quite a shift from decades ago."

l Beth Tweddle will not take part in the vault and beam gymnastics competitions because of a rib injury. However, the 2006 world asymmetric bars champion said she would compete in the floor exercise and bars, her two strongest events.

61 reasons to be cheerful? Our optimistic guide to British medal chances

How many medals will Great Britain win in Beijing? Despite the somewhat pessimistic air that has surrounded the team in the build-up to the Games, Nick Harris predicts an uplifting two weeks for British sport

16 GOLDS

Phillips Idowu (athletics, triple jump)

Christine Ohuruogu (athletics, 400m)

Shanaze Reade (cycling, BMX)

Bradley Wiggins (track cycling, individual pursuit)

Men's team pursuit (track cycling)

Victoria Pendleton (track cycling, sprint)

Chris Hoy (track cycling, keirin)

Ben Ainslie (sailing, Finn)

Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson (sailing, Yngling)

David Price (boxing, super-heavyweight)

Craig Fallon (judo, 60kg)

Tim Brabants (canoeing, K1 1,000m)

Men's four (rowing)

Women's quad sculls (rowing)

Lightweight men's double sculls (rowing)

Heather Fell (modern pentathlon)

17 SILVERS

Women's 4x400m relay

(athletics)

Rebecca Romero (below, track cycling, individual sprint)

Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes (sailing, 49er)

Paul Goodison (sailing, Laser)

Euan Burton (judo, 81kg)

Aaron Cook (tae kwon do)

Frankie Gavin (boxing, lightweight)

Anna Hemmings and Jess Walker (canoeing, K2, 500m)

Rebecca Adlington (swimming, 800m freestyle)

Cassie Patten (swimming, 10k open water)

Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge (diving, 10m synchro)

Men's double sculls (rowing)

David Davies (swimming, 10k open water)

Tim Don (triathlon)

Men's team (archery)

Three day eventing team competition (equestrianism)

Mark King (equestrianism, three-day eventing)

26 BRONZES

Kelly Sotherton (athletics, heptathlon)

Greg Rutherford (athletics, long jump)

Chris Hoy (track cycling, sprint)

Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins (track cycling, madison)

Men's team sprint (track cycling)

Emma Pooley (road race cycling)

Andy Murray (tennis, men's singles)

Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield (sailing, 470)

Bradley Saunders (boxing, welterweight)

Billy-Joe Saunders (boxing, light-welterweight)

Karina Bryant (judo, heavyweight)

Sarah Stevenson (right, tae kwon do)

Beth Tweddle (gymnastics, uneven bars)

Louis Smith (gymnastics, pommel horse)

Campbell Walsh (canoeing, K1 slalom)

Rebecca Adlington (swimming, 400m freestyle)

David Davies (swimming, 1,500m freestyle)

Gemma Lowe (swimming, 200m butterfly)

Hannah Miley (swimming, 400m IM)

4 x 200m freestyle relay (swimming, women)

Richards Faulds (shooting, double trap)

Alan Wills (archery, individual)

Women's team event (archery)

Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg (badminton, mixed doubles)

Showjumping team event (equestrianism)

Katy Livingston (modern pentathlon)

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower