Sir Steve Redgrave CBE, one of only four Olympians to win a gold medal at five consecutive Olympic Games, has talked up the chances of the Great Britain cycling team to The Sun.
Sir Steve predicts 20 gold medals for Team GB at London 2012 – a record in the modern era. Team GB's Beijing 2008 haul included 19 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze.
He told the paper: "I think we can win 50 or more medals including 20 golds. Cycling is going to be our strongest sport.
“I think rowing will be our second-best sport, then sailing, then athletics. After that you have swimming and sports such as triathlon and taekwondo where I think we will pick up one or maybe two gold medals.”
When the Olympics were last held in the UK in 1948, Britain took home 56 golds.
He added: “In many ways our success has come four years earlier than we would have liked it to. But with the excitement of the home Games, I’m hoping we will move on from four years ago. I know we can at least perform to the levels we did in Beijing.”
As of today there are a mere 100 days until the start of the Olympic Games. British Cycling has marked the occasion by outlining how potential cyclists, or punters if you like, inspired by what they see in London this summer can get involved in cycling.
British Cycling also today announced that over 100 cycling clubs have already signed up to take part in the Go Ride Games – a summer festival of Olympic style races for thousands of under-16s.
Chief executive Ian Drake said: “With just 100 days until the greatest show on earth, there has never been a better time to get into cycling. Be it riding with friends at weekends, participating in a sportive, racing or commuting to work, there are thousands of ways to get involved across the country - whatever your age or interest.
“The cycling revolution has already started – over 1.7 million people now ride at least once a week – but we don’t want to stop there. Events like the Go Ride Games and Sky Ride present an unrivalled opportunity for us to make sure that London 2012 inspires thousands more to get into cycling.
“Our aspiration is to win medals and to ensure that we use that success to get unprecedented numbers of people riding regularly, transforming Britain into a nation of cyclists and providing a true legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
British Cycling outlined a number of ways inspired members of the public could get into cycling (no pressure on Team GB, then): Firstly with the aforementioned Go Ride Games (100 Go-Ride clubs have already signed up to take part in the Go-Ride Games - a national summer festival of cycling for young people).
There's also competitive racing. British Cycling says participation in the sport is continuing to grow with over 20,000 people now regularly racing across all disciplines. Almost 3,500 competitive cycling events now take place each year.
Then there are sportives, 300 of which have taken place in the last 12 months, involving over 90,000 participants.
The Sky Ride programme is available for budding cyclists too. Last year over 200,000 people took part in them across the UK, but this year Sky Ride will be bigger than ever, offering over 25,000 recreational bike riders the chance to ride in over 1,700 community-led rides, with the support of 45 local authorities. British Cycling is training another 650 ride leaders to support local cycling, bringing the total group to over 1,200. www.goskyride.com
The Breeze network of women-only rides are aiming to help over 10,000 new women get into bike riding in 2012. BC is training a further 450 volunteer Breeze champions – women who help other women get started.
British Cycling also mentions coaching – over 2,300 coaches and ride leaders undertook a British Cycling qualification last year, while events such as Coaching 2012 – British Cycling’s annual coaching conference – are key to ensuring coaches continue to receive the best ongoing support and education, BC said.