I don’t think there’s any question that we can improve on our London 2012 medal tally in Rio 2016. But there’s a pathway to elite success. To build on our performance in London, we need to put several things in place. First, school sport must be strong. That means having teachers with proper PE training to bring out the best in our children. Without the confidence to do the basics, children won’t be able to turn their hands to the more complicated techniques of sport. Then we have to invest in our community clubs so that the coaches and facilities, which all athletes have access to, are the very best we can afford. We then have to make sure that the links between our schools and our clubs are seamless – so that no one falls between the cracks. Finally, our talent identification, and our investment in that talent, has to stay focused. This is the recipe if Team GB is to go nuts in Brazil.
Tim Lamb is chief executive of the Sports and Recreation Alliance.
Team GB has been improving its performance in the Olympic Games since Atlanta 1996. But part of this year’s remarkable success is attributable to a home advantage. I tried to predict the number of medals Britain would win in London, but overestimated its performance by a significant margin. My prediction considered a host premium, based on data from the last six Olympic Games, which tends to give host nations a 40 per cent increase in medals won. The host premium enjoyed by Team GB has been smaller and is highly unlikely to be retained at the Rio 2016 Games. The last seven Games show that only two host countries – Spain and South Korea – have been able to sustain their medal haul at the next Olympics. A particularly remarkable example of the failure to maintain momentum is that of Greece, which went from 16 medals in Athens 2004 to only four in the following Beijing Games.
Stefania Lovo is an econometrician at the Legatum Institute.