'Britain on course for golden games'
11:29am Tuesday 19th June 2012 in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News
Britain are on course to win more medals in London than any other modern Olympics but their astonishing number of golds in Beijing may now be a heavy burden, according to one of the architects of that success.
The British team finished fourth in the Beijing medals table thanks to 19 golds out of 47 medals and Peter Keen, special adviser to funding body UK Sport who was appointed CBE in last week's Queen's Birthday Honours, said maintaining that position is less easy to predict.
Keen was performance director for UK Sport in the build-up to Beijing and the body's distribution of National Lottery money was a vital part of the improvement in performances via funding of athletes, coaches, services and facilities.
He told Press Association Sport: "Statistically only a third of the medals should be gold so the 19 from Beijing is a burden many might feel.
"Eight from one sport (cycling) is particularly unusual and the challenge is to make sure that level of performance can be matched by other sports."
Keen argues that the margins between the medals are so tiny that success should be viewed as winning a medal of any colour, rather than just gold.
UK Sport will publish their official medal targets in a couple of weeks but Keen said the number of athletes with world rankings indicating medal positions in London were at an all-time high. Comparisons with the overall position pre-Beijing means he is supremely confident that more medals will be won in more sports.
He added: "It is much more than a gut feeling - we track performance and it's a simple statistical fact that where we stand now is further forward than prior to Beijing.
"I would be very, very surprised if that doesn't see (the team) perform higher than in Beijing.
"There are more people with more ability than we had in Beijing.
"I am sure Britain will win more medals in more sports than we have ever done in the modern era."
Keen said the advent of Lottery funding had led to a "revolution" for elite sport. It allowed him for example to become performance director of British Cycling before moving to UK Sport and becoming instrumental in setting up the current funding system.
"Lottery funding has been absolutely revolutionary to how we do sport and that is sometimes lost in the noise of the medal counts," Keen added.
"I get a lot of requests from other countries, including for example China, if I could come and explain the UK's sporting miracle.
"Through their lens, they see this massive turnaround from a country occasionally medalling in certain sports into a world force in Olympic sport.
"How did that happen? The truth is it's this National Lottery investment."
Keen said that although funding for athletes so they did not have to have other jobs was important, the real impact had come through the funding of coaches, nutritionists and performance experts.
Athletes earning more than £64,000 from sponsors, prize money and Lottery awards will have their funding means-tested.