Mon, September 23, 2013

Team GB 'best prepared' for medal haul

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency


Great Britain forward Craig Bellamy (L) celebrates with Great Britain midfielder Tom Cleverley after scoring the opening goal during the London 2012 Olympic Games men's football match between Great Britain and Senegal at Old Trafford in Manchester on July 26, 2012. (AFP)


LONDON - The head of Great Britain’s Olympic committee stopped short of predicting how many medals the hosts would win at the 2012 Games.

But Sir Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, called the team the “best prepared team we’ve ever taken to a Games” and said there would be a “plethora of personal bests.” “If they do that, then the medals will follow,” Moynihan said. “I don’t think any more could’ve been done to prepare them.” Moynihan, however, warned that it would be “incredibly tough” for Team GB to match its performance at Beijing 2008, where it won 19 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze medals.

“The margins that are going to differentiate gold from silver and from bronze are going to be so small that it will be a mug’s game to go around predicting race by race which gold medal we are going to deliver in which sport,” he said.

Cyclist Chris Hoy won three gold medals in Beijing and carried the Union Jack flag in the closing ceremony. He will reprise the role in Friday’s opening ceremony, where the British team will be last to enter the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

Great Britain is under pressure to win a medal in soccer, a sport it claims to have invented. Superstar David Beckham of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy was not chosen to be among the three overage players on the under-23 squad. He does, however, have a role in the opening ceremony.

Britain was criticized by FIFA president Sepp Blatter after Gareth Bale withdrew from the team with a back injury but returned to action sooner than expected with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League.

“I don’t agree with Sepp Blatter’s comments,” Moynihan said. “Sepp Blatter needs to get a bit closer to Team GB and join me on the Jubilee Line (subway), I didn’t notice him there this morning. It would’ve been helpful because I could’ve explained the situation with him very clearly. It’s a pity that Gareth isn’t part of the team.”

As for the identity of the Olympic cauldron lighter, Moynihan offered no hints but said he favoured rower Steve Redgrave, who won gold medals at five consecutive Olympics from Los Angeles 1984 to Sydney 2000.

“I hope Steve Redgrave plays a very significant part (in the ceremony),” Moynihan said. “He’s one of the greatest British Olympians, he’s one of the greatest Olympians alive.”

The Vancouver 2010 Games opening ceremony featured four Canadian Olympic greats, but only Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash and Nancy Greene Raine were able to light the stadium cauldron. Catriona Le May Doan stood and waved at the crowd after the fourth arm of the internal cauldron failed to emerge from the false floor at B.C. Place Stadium at the climax of the ceremony.