They could be contenders

Britain's medal hopes


The probables

Paula Radcliffe (marathon)

Only a sudden loss of form or pushing too hard on the notoriously hilly Marathon-to- Athens course seem likely to stop her becoming only the sixth British woman to strike Olympic track-and-field gold, following in the venerable footsteps of Mary Rand (long jump, 1964), Mary Peters (pentathlon, 1972), Tessa Sanderson (javelin, 1984), Sally Gunnell (400m hurdles, 1992) and Denise Lewis (heptathlon, 2000). None of her rivals has run within three minutes of her world record.

Kelly Holmes (800m, 1500m)

Showed with emphatic 800m win over Jolanda Ceplak in Birmingham that she is hitting peak form at the right time. With her training partner, Maria Mutola, back in winning shape in the 800m, her best chance could be in the 1500m now that Sureyya Ayhan, of Turkey, has been ruled out with injury.

The possibles

Chris Rawlinson (400m hurdles)

Has a history of heading to global championships as a medal contender but finishing outside the frame. Has found a greater consistency this summer, though, and is finishing his races more strongly.

Phillips Idowu (triple jump)

Back to form with 17.47m jump to win at Crystal Palace eight days ago. Idowu (below) could even take gold if Christian Olsson continues to struggle for form.

Men's 4 x 100m relay

With Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell and Mark Lewis-Francis all struggling to hit top gear individually, the relay would appear to be their best medal chance. On form, though, will start as fringe contenders.

Men's 4 x 400m relay

Long shots for a place on the podium, but the burgeoning form of Tim Benjamin, allied to the speed of Daniel Caines and Chris Rawlinson (plus A N Other) could put them in the medal picture.

Hayley Tullett (1500m)

A brilliant bronze-medal winner at the World Championships last year and second in the Golden League meeting in Paris.

Jade Johnson (long jump)

A long shot in a field which includes Tatyana Lebedeva, Marion Jones and Carolina Kluft. Would need one of the main contenders to blow it.

Kelly Sotherton (heptathlon)

With Eunice Barber injured, the field behind Carolina Kluft would appear to be open, and Sotherton (below), ranked No 3 in the world, is a rapidly emerging force. Needs a good javelin throw to keep her in the hunt.

Women's 4 x 400m relay

Russia and the US will start favourites and Jamaica could be strong, but Lee McConnell, Donna Fraser, Christine Ohuruogu and Catherine Murphy comprise a quartet of genuine medal potential.


The probables

Men's four (Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell, Steve Williams, Ed Coode)

All eyes will be on the much-altered quartet as they attempt to emulate the triumph of the Redgrave four at Sydney. After a year of disruption in which Pinsent and Cracknell have been switched to the four from the coxless pair, an injury to Alex Partridge has meant the late inclusion of Ed Coode (far right). The combination should still be capable of adding to Pinsent's three consecutive Olympic golds.

Women's quadruple scull (Rebecca Romero, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton, Alison Mowbray)

The men have tended to dominate our Olympic success, but this is the only British boat likely to start as favourites following their stirring World Cup victory at Lucerne in June. A repeat of that performance will see them in contention for gold.

Women's pair (Katherine Grainger and Cath Bishop)

The 2003 world champions, who disappointed in Lucerne, are still eminently capable of adding to the silver that Grainger won at Sydney.

The possibles

Men's pair (Rick Dunn and Tony Garbett)

The luckless duo, ousted from the four in which they had claimed a world silver last year to make way for Pinsent and Cracknell, have every incentive to secure a medal here. They finished fourth in their last World Cup event, but the Aussies were absent that day.

Women's double scull (Sarah Winckless and Elise Laverick)

Winckless was ninth in this event at Sydney, just weeks after recovering from a cracked rib, but will anticipate better fortunes this time with Elise Laverick. They were silver medallists at a world cup event in Munich.


The probables

Ben Ainslie (Finn class)

Less a probable, more a near-certainty for gold. Unofficial leader of British fleet is hot favourite to add a Finn title to the one he secured in the Laser in Sydney. Also took silver in Atlanta at 19. Since Sydney, has twice won European and world titles.

Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks (49er)

World champions in this discipline, where great agility is required as the men "trapeze" off the boat on a harness and a wire. Favourites to claim gold by defeating principal rivals the Germans and Spaniards, and go one better than Hiscocks did when winning silver with Ian Barker in Sydney.

Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell (Star)

The charismatic Percy - victorious in the Finn in Sydney - and Mitchell have been in buoyant mood all summer. The pair joined forces in 2001 and quickly made history by becoming the first Britons to win the World Championships of this keelboat event.

Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton (Yngling)

Robertson, who won gold at Sydney in the single-handed Europe class after a 12-year quest for an Olympic title, this time competes in a three-woman keelboat.

The possibles

Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield (470)

A bronze eluded this pair in Sydney by just one point, and they are capable of a podium position this time.

Leigh McMillan and Mark Bulkeley (Tornado)

The surprise package who, despite not possessing the experience of some of the British squad, have already won a world silver medal.

Paul Goodison (Laser)

Ainslie's training partner in Sydney belatedly proved to the selection committee that he was worthy of Olympic nomination and he could reward that faith with a medal.


The probables

Melanie Marshall (200m freestyle)

In a sport where bigger is often better, the 5ft 6in Loughborough product is new to élite level but is here to stay. A 1:57.51 at the British Olympic trials pushed her to No 1 in the world, and with the retirement of Australia's Susie O'Neill it might be left to the veteran German Franziska van Almsick and Poland's Otylia Jedrejczak to present the biggest threats. Marshall was only 12th in last year's World Champion-ships, but she is poised for fame.

David Davies (1500m freestyle)

In 1992, two swimmers dipped under 15 minutes. In 1996 it was one, and in 2000 four crept below the mark. Which suggests that if Davies can reproduce his best of 14:57.93 in the final he will be on the rostrum. Australia's Grant Hackett is favourite, but the 19-year-old Welshman goes to Athens with high hopes. Much will hinge on how he copes with two gruelling races within 24 hours at this level.

Katy Sexton (100, 200m backstroke)

Can become the smiling face of this Olympic team, a gold medal or two to launch myriad magazine covers. Current world champion over 200m, her best distance, though silver at the worlds in the shorter distance makes Sexton (right) a powerful presence in both. Has made rapid and significant strides over the past 18 months; she might have most to fear from Japan's duo of Reiko Nakamura and Aya Terakawa.

The possibles

Gregor Tait and James Goddard (200m backstroke)

Sadly for these two Brits, there is a pair of Americans who look to have a stranglehold on gold and silver. One of them is Michael Phelps, the mercurial teenager, the other Aaron Piersol. Tait, the 25-year-old British record-holder, is a yawning two seconds behind the two favourites, but along with Goddard, 21, should reach the final, where anything is possible.

James Gibson (100m breaststroke)

One of the free spirits of the team, the world 50m champion will catapult off the blocks. Can he hold on? If at his best, yes, though the smart money would be on someone coming past him when it counts. That someone might be the Australian Brendan Hansen, or even team-mate Darren Mew.

Darren Mew (100m breaststroke)

An underachiever at the highest level, he won the Olympic trials and goes to Athens ranked only behind Hansen. A medal would not be a surprise, and British coach Bill Sweetenham has worked to improve his mental toughness.

Ian Edmond (200m breaststroke)

David Wilkie's successor picked up the silver at last year's World Championships, and a return to his best will give him a medal chance. It will not be easy, but his presence confirms British men's breaststroking is in rude health.


The probables

Chris Hoy (1km sprint)

Cycling brought a flying start in Sydney, and Hoy is tipped for glory after blowing every-one away in the World Championships.

Jamie Staff (Keirin)

Ex-BMX star won World Championships team gold in first season on track and is world champion in six-rider free-for-all.

Nicole Cooke (individual time trial)

Faces arduous task in her 120-mile road race around the foot of a mountain. But the 21-year-old, youngest World Cup winner in only her second season as a professional, has a golden look about her.

The possibles

Bradley Wiggins (individual pursuit)

Ex-Olympic champion Chris Boardman has high hopes of the much-medalled former world junior champion and talented time-trial rider. Good team chances, too.


The probable

Pippa Funnell

Despite a double fall at this year's Badminton she is recognised as the world's No 1 eventer and tipped to surpass her team silver in Sydney. Britain are also strong contenders for team gold.

The possibles

William Fox-Pitt

Tall, talented and highly experienced rider who won his first Badminton this year.

Leslie Law

Ex-council estate boy who promises to improve on team silver in Sydney with an individual podium place.


The possible

Beth Tweddle (asymmetric bars)

Britain's best-ever gymnast (below) could become Britain's Nadia Comaneci if she can improve on historic World Champion- ships bronze and European silver.

Modern pentathlon

The probable

Kate Allenby

Believes she can emulate Steph Cook's Sydney gold, where she took bronze in five-discipline event strictly for superwomen.

The possible

Georgina Harland

A reserve in Sydney, and subsequently a World Cup winner, she could be right up there with her friend and team-mate.


The probable

Richard Faulds (double trap)

Won gold on a shoot-out in Sydney and is bagging the birds again.

The possible

Ian Peel (Olympic trap)

Silver medallist in 2000, with impressive record, temperament and form.


The possibles

Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson (mixed doubles)

Fourth in the world rankings, this little-and-large combination have won European titles and could be placed.


The possibles

Karina Bryant (over 78kg)

Heavyweight hope at 6ft 2in. Three times European champion, she will have to beat Chinese world champion to win gold.

Craig Fallon (under 60kg)

World Championships runner-up but a first-time Olympian; he could give British morale a vital boost on the first day.

Kate Howey (under 70kg)

In her fourth Olympics the former world champion, now 31, is capable of equalling her bronze of Barcelona and silver from Sydney.


The possible

Amir Khan (60kg)

Britain's lone boxer but the best youngster for years (right). If he avoids Cuban Mario Kindelan in the draw, could reach the final.


The probable

Sarah Stevenson (over 70kg)

Unsung heroine of an unsung sport, Doncaster's high-kicker was unlucky not to gain a medal in Sydney but became world champion a year later. Can KO Asia's finest.

The possible

Paul Green (under 58kg)

World silver medallist last year with form and determination to get in the medals.


The possible

Tim Henman (men's singles)

Won doubles silver in Sydney, andmost of the big names will be absent. Except, unfortunately for Henman, Roger Federer.


The possible

Tim Don

The three-event endurance test was a big let-down in Sydney but the 26-year-old promises to improve on his 10th position.


The possible

Tim Brabants (K1 100m)

Qualified doctor, won bronze in Sydney, gold and silver in Europeans and is on course for a top-three finish.

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