The Independent's golden hope for 2012: 20-11

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Tomorrow 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. Today, 20-11

20 Victoria Pendleton, Cycling

Queen Victoria, as Hugh Porter, the BBC's ever-enthusiastic cycling commentator, never tires of calling her, may be facing the end of her reign, but as events in Melbourne amply demonstrated she will have to be hauled bodily from her throne. The Australian Anna Meares was the favourite ahead of the world championships and will be so again in London – but this month Pendleton defied the odds to win a sixth sprint world title, recovering from a spectacular crash to beat Meares in the semi-final. Meares, who finished behind Pendleton in the Beijing final, is quicker, but should Pendleton reach the final her experience and sheer, inexhaustible will to win will make her incredibly difficult to beat. London will be Pendleton's last hurrah.

 

19 Fran Halsall, Swimming

Halsall will be the busiest British swimmer at the Games, having qualified for three individual events and two relays. She has medal hopes in all three of her events, the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly, but it is the longer of the freestyle events that offers her a chance to win gold. Like a number of Britain's women, she was impressive in qualifying for the Games. Clad in a pink suit, the 21-year-old was quicker than she ever has been in that early stage of the season and recorded the quickest time of the year. The 100m free is an event won by the smallest of margins and Halsall's long reach – she is not tall but has a Phelpsesque wingspan – aids her in tight finishes.

18 Peter Wilson, Shooting

Last month Wilson, a 25-year-old from Dorset, set a new world record to claim double trap gold at the Shotgun World Cup in Arizona. Out of 200 targets he hit 198, two better than the previous mark. Since last August Wilson, a farmer's son, has been ranked No 1 in the world and after a productive 2011 and a stirring start to Olympic year, has emerged as the man to beat in London. He is coached by Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, an Olympic gold medallist in the event in 2004 and a member of the Dubai ruling family. In contrast, Wilson has had to work in a pub to supplement his income. Britain won gold in this event in Sydney 2000 through Richard Faulds, who will be competing alongside Wilson at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

17 Aaron Cook, Taekwondo

He may only be 21 but Cook has shoehorned plenty into his sporting career already. With the proviso that he wins selection at next month's European championships, London will be his second Games. In Beijing he was left distraught after finishing fourth, after two controversially-judged defeats in the semi-final and the bronze medal match. He has had his ups and downs since then, beating the world champion a year later but going out early in the 2010 world championships. He has since left the British set-up to go his own way and his form has picked up dramatically with significant victories in the US and Europe. If Sarah Stevenson manages to regain fitness in time, then Britain could have two taekwondo golds to celebrate.

16 Shanaze Reade, BMX

The tough of the BMX track messed up in Beijing, tumbling spectacularly out of the final having been widely tipped – not least by Chris Hoy – to take the sport's first Olympic gold. Four years on she goes into London as favourite again but this time determined to make the experience count. "A lot of it is to do with the mind and now I have a lot more control over that," she told The Independent this year. She has had her attitude questioned since Beijing, and flirted briefly with a return to track cycling, at which she is also a world champion, but is now firmly back on her BMX. She won the test event at the Olympic Park last year and next month's world championships in Birmingham will give an indication of whether she is still in the right place.

15 Mo Farah, Athletics

The golden boy of British athletics in 2010 and 2011, Farah has not had the best of starts to 2012, finishing out of the medals at the world indoors in Istanbul last month. Still, the distance he contested there was only 3,000m and it is at 5,000m and 10,000m that he will be going for gold in London. The razor sharpness he showed in his first indoor race, over 1,500m in Glasgow in January, failed to last the indoor season but in retrospect it showed that Farah still has a cutting edge. He will need it, with Bernard Lagat of the US to contend with in the 5,000m and anyone wearing a Kenyan or Ethiopian vest in the 5,000m and 10,000m. A return to winning form at the start of the outdoor season would be a vital boost.

14 Men's pursuit, Cycling

Dave Brailsford, the man behind Britain's prolonged success on the track, described the men's pursuit final at this month's world championships as the "best race I've ever seen". And he's seen a few. It was a Britain v Australia contest, as much of the best moments in the velodrome will be this summer – and it ended in British gold and a new world record. The manner in which Britain's quartet – pick four from Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Andy Tennant, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh – have first closed the gap on Australia and now overtaken them has been hugely impressive. Both teams are expected to go faster in London and – presuming they avoid each other in the semi-finals – the pursuit final will be a highlight.

13 Alistair Brownlee, Triathlon

At the conclusion of the Beijing Olympics, The Independent picked out young Britons who had shown the potential to be home medal winners in 2012, saying the following about the Yorkshireman: "The 20-year-old led the chase down of the two leaders from midway through the cycling phase and pushed the pace at the front of the field in the 10km before fading to 12th. Showed he has the pedigree, and perhaps more importantly the cojones to be a medal contender when the Olympic triathlon comes to Hyde Park in 2012." Brownlee is now the world champion – beating his brother Jonny into second place (a Brownlee one-two is not beyond the realms of possibility) – but is playing catch up after a torn Achilles disrupted his start to 2012.

12 Mark Hunter & Zac Purchase, Rowing

The chalk and cheese partnership – Hunter the eastender from the Isle of Dogs, Purchase the former public schoolboy from Worcester – were huge favourites to take gold in Beijing, having swept all before them in the double sculls that season. The result was never in doubt and they led the final from start to finish. It was Britain's first lightweight gold. But progress since has not been so straightforward. After time out from the sport the pair, who are firm friends, got back together, only for injury and illness to dog them. They won the world title last year, however, to demonstrate that on their day they remain a force to be reckoned with and they will be Britain's best hope of men's gold at Eton Dorney.

11 Laura Trott, Cycling

The new shining star of Britain's shiniest Olympic sport. Trott, who turns 20 next week, has ridden to the top of the world in next to no time and could finish the Games as a double gold medallist. She won the omnium and was part of the record-breaking pursuit team at the world championships; she is now favourite to win the omnium – the six-race event that makes its Games debut – and the women's pursuit team are also the ones to catch. Trott will have to cope with being one of the host nation's fancied performers, as well as dealing with the pressures of a first Games – she is the highest ranked first-timer in our list. The experience of riding in last year's London World Cup at the velodrome in front of a raucous home support may prove as telling as her world triumphs.

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

CLICK HERE FOR THE INDEPENDENT'S GOLDEN HOPES FOR 2012: 30-21

Host gold medals

2008 China 51 59% increase on 2004

2004 Greece 6 50% increase on 2000

2000 Australia 16 78% increase on 1996

1996 United States 44

19% increase on 1992

1992 Spain 13

1200% increase on 1988

1988 South Korea 12

100% increase on 1984

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits