Team GB bosses confident of golden Tokyo games
Preparations already under way to go big in Japan
After an Olympic Games where Team GB’S success exceeded all expectations, the team’s track bosses are confident of continuing the country’s dominance in the velodrome into the next Olympics in Tokyo.
Every British rider that took to the boards in Rio won a medal, with golden couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny rounding off Britain’s dominant six days in the Rio Olympic Velodrome with their second and third of the Games respectively.
Cyclists won six golds, four silvers and two bronze, accounting for 18 per cent of Britain’s tally of 67 medals.
Six golds in Rio was one less than London and two less than Beijing but with its Tokyo strategy submitted to UK Sport and the promise of continued lottery funding thanks to the success in Rio, bosses at British Cycling are optimistic ahead of the next Olympic cycle.
“Obviously we’re not going to see Brad or Cav again but a lot of medal winners here are comparatively young,” said GB head coach Iain Dyer. “We have Olympic debutants like [sprinters] Becky James and Katy Marchant to name just two, who have done a great job and can look forward to hopefully more success in the future.”
However, on his return home Cavendish declined to rule out qualifying for the Tokyo Games. Speaking to the BBC he said: “Qualification for Tokyo comes around in two years’ time, so I don’t have to think about it for the next two years anyway. We’ll see what happens when we get there.”
Dyer added that he was confident that the ongoing inquiry into the culture at British Cycling, set up in the wake of Shane Sutton’s resignation amid claims of discrimination, would find evidence of a “culture of success.”
He said Sutton had made “significant staffing changes”, including appointing Heiko Salzwedel as endurance coach and sprint coach Justin Grace. “If you change your staff, move people around and play to their strengths, what it serves to highlight is that we must have a fantastic ongoing culture in our organisation.”
Rival nations have continued to cast a critical eye over Britain’s results in Rio, with German sprint gold medallist Kristina Vogel saying, “I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything but it is all very questionable.”
Anna Meares, Australia’s most decorated Olympic cyclist said: “We’re all just scratching our heads about how Britain lift so much when in so many events they have not even been in contention in major championships.”
Australia didn’t win a single cycling gold medal in the Games and Kevin Tabotta, performance director of Cycling Australia, said that the team might now consider taking “a step back” in order to “thrust into” the Olympics, like Britain.
He said. “Now that’s going to take some understanding from funders and also from athletes because there’s an expectation now in Australia to perform every time we line up at a World Championship.”