BRITISH Olympic Association officials have defended the performance of their team in Vancouver after admitting they would miss the three medal target set by UK Sport.
Chief executive Andy Hunt was keen to accentuate the positive, underlining his point with statistics.
While skeleton gold for Amy Williams represents an improvement on Shelley Rudman’s solitary silver in Turin, there have been only seven top 10 performances in Vancouver, two less than four years ago. Indeed, two of these top 10s came in curling – a sport with only 10 teams entered.
However, Hunt is keen to point out that 69 per cent of his 52-strong team – the largest sent to a Winter Olympics since 1992 – are making their debuts, while 17 per cent are under 21.
Winter sports received £6.5m to fund the four-year campaign towards Vancouver, in comparison to the £400m received by summer sports to prepare for London 2012. Hunt admits he does not expect that figure to rise ahead of Sochi but is looking for ways to spend it more wisely.
“We never set a medal target and we’ve be totally consistent with that,” he said. “We understand why UK Sport set a medal target because they are a funding agency that need to see a return on investment.”
With the London 2012 Games just under 900 days away, the BOA’s performance team have closely monitoring how Canada have dealt with the pressure of medal expectancy.
“We talk a lot about the home advantage but there is also the home disadvantage – as we’ve seen with Mellisa Hollingsworth in the women’s skeleton,” added Hunt
“The pressure and expectation on her was absolutely immense and it’s something we need to think about in the run-up to London.
“We need to make sure we have given people as much experience as possible, in an assimilated kind of environment, for the pressure they are going to be under.
It’s very hard to do because you don’t get this on the normal international circuit but we’ve got to get it right.”
Meanwhile, Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg captured a shock gold in the women’s giant slalom.
Rebensburg was sixth after the first run but produced a charging performance to relegate overnight leader Elisabeth Goergl to bronze while Slovenia’s Tina Maze captured her second silver of the Games.
Great Britain’s Chemmy Alcott dropped several places on her first run performance, finishing a distant 27th. “I felt like I really knocked the door down,” she said.
“I didn’t really make a mistake, I just skied too hard. I’m disappointed because it just didn’t happen.”
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