London: Four years ago in Beijing, Team GB won 47 medals in their finest Olympic performance for a century. The team took 19 golds to finish fourth overall in the medal table.
But four years later can the same athletes duplicate their performances and defend their titles as they carry the hopes of a nation when the Games open this Friday?
Great Britain has announced a squad of 542 and that includes 262 women — more than 100 more female competitors than ever before. For the sake of history, Team GB’s official delegation is Britain’s largest for more than a century and the biggest since London hosted the Games for the first time in 1908, when 676 athletes competed for the hosts. And the British Olympic Association was the first of the 203 National Olympic Committees to officially enter its team.
Among the athletes Rebecca Tunney and Richard Davison hold pride of place: Tunney is a 15-year-old artistic gymnast, while 56-year-old dressage rider Davison is the oldest.
The team is not short on experience either as archer Alison Williamson and eventers Mary King Nick Skelton are taking part in their sixth Olympic Games.
And then there is Sir Chris Hoy, who has already won four track cycling golds, Ben Ainslie, who has won gold in sailing at three consecutive Games, and swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who claimed two golds in Beijing.
On the flip side, Team GB has had a number of contentious selections, the most prominent one being that of sprinter Dwain Chambers along with shot-putter Carl Myerscough and cyclist David Millar all getting a chance to compete in London after having previously been banned from Olympic participation for failing drugs tests.
Estimates say that UK Sport has invested £300 million (Dh1,712 million) in Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes in the past four years with the target of once again completing a top-four finish in the medals table.
Team GB’s 47 medals in Beijing is just the target…48 seems to be the magical number!