After their best showing in over 100 years at Rio 2016, Team GB will be hoping a year’s extra break will allow a bright new golden generation to shine in Tokyo.
While Britain may find it tough to match that impressive gold rush from Brazil, there are still several huge talents that look set fair to seal their place among the British sporting greats this July and August.
We’ve picked out seven solid GB medal hopes that could steal the headlines later this summer….
GB Medal Contenders | Athletes Going For Gold in Tokyo
Is Dina destined to take on Jessica Ennis’ mantle as the golden girl of British athletics?
The 25-year-old looks to be in pole position to be Britain’s biggest breakout star on the track this summer after hoovering up golds aplenty at both the European Championship and World Championships since introducing herself to the majority of the British public as a bronze relay gold-medallist in Rio.
With Sir Mo Farah’s Olympic fate still up in the air, the London-born athlete is expected to be British Athletics’ best hope for gold at the Japan National Stadium this summer and could have two shots at glory with the 100m, 200m and relay events all viable options.
The golden boy of British swimming got Britain’s bumper medal table haul off to a flying start with the first gold at Rio, and it could well be down to the 26-year-old again to turbocharge any British gold rush in Tokyo.
Breaking world records has become second nature to Peaty since those breakout games, with the swimmer clocking two more breathless 100m breaststroke times at the 2020 International Swimming League in Budapest, while scooping a four-gold haul at the European Championships.
He’s now the most successful 100m breaststroke swimmer of all-time, and probably Britain’s most sure-fire bet to build some early medal table momentum in the land of the rising sun.
Is this finally KJT’s time on the biggest stage of them all?
At 28, the Liverpudlian heptathlete is at the peak of her powers, and she’s now a proven contender on the world stage after a breath-taking return at the 2019 World Championships to win gold while becoming the sixth best heptathlete of all time.
However, there is one fly in the ointment. A lengthy absence from competitive action due to injury means she’ll arriving here without much prep time, which could mean her long-time rivalry with Belgian Nafi Thiam could go right down to the wire this August. One thing’s for sure: the women’s heptathlon will be one of the events you can’t afford to miss this summer.
There’s an old joke that goes British athletes only perform well when sitting down.
Given GB’s dominance in the likes of cycling, rowing and equestrian sports, it’s one that contains a glimmer of truth, and one other ‘sit-down’ sport where Britain tends to dominate is sailing. 33-year-old Finn Class sensation Scott is back for another Olympics bid in Japan after obliterating the rest of the field in Brazil, comfortably claiming gold with a day to spare.
He’ll be hoping for a return to form here after being forced to settle for ninth at the most recent Finn Gold Cup. Due to Covid restrictions, this year’s event could be something of a toss-up given a lack of practice time for most sailors in Japan, but Scott certainly has the experience to not be thrown off-balance by that lack of a decent trial run in Enoshima.
British boxing will be hoping for a brighter time it in Tokyo, with the effervescent Nicola Adams the solitary member of the squad to take home gold in 2016. That was a rare misfire for British interests in Rio given GB topped the boxing medal table on home soil at London 2012.
One of Team GB’s brightest prospects could be 26-year-old boxer Pat McCormack. The Sunderland-born fighter struck gold in Minsk at the 2019 European Games and was only narrowly denied another by split decision at the World Championships in the same year.
McCormack was eliminated at the Round of 16 in Rio but should be better placed this time around with five years’ extra experience under his belt. The Brit secured gold last month in Paris at the European Boxing Qualifiers as he won out against long-time rival Andrei Zamkovoi, and it’ll be a family affair for McCormack in Tokyo with his twin brother Luke also named in the GB boxing squad for this summer’s games.
2016 was another golden summer for British cycling with the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Jason and Laura Kenny and Sir Bradley Wiggins all contributing to another gold glut in the velodrome.
While the Kennys may be back for another crack at sporting immortality, this could be more of a transitional games for Team GB as a younger generation of stars earn their stripes in Tokyo.
One name to watch could be the progressive Jack Carlin, with the Scotsman set to line up alongside Jason Kenny in the Team Sprint as the 32-year-old takes the senior role this summer.
HELEN GLOVER & POLLY SWANN
Now this would be really the fairy tale we come to expect from the Olympics.
A third gold medal might be too much to ask for Glover after an extended break from rowing to bring up her family, but she’s nothing if not tenacious having won the coxless pair with Heather Stanning in both 2012 and 2016.
It was like she had never been away on her return to major competitive action with new partner Polly Swann at the 2021 European Championship.
The pair won gold at Varese, Italy and will be partnered together in Tokyo.
Team GB Medal Hopes
- ADAM PEATY
- DINA ASHER-SMITH
- GILES SCOTT
- HELEN GLOVER & POLLY SWANN
- JACK CARLIN
- KATARINA JOHNSON-THOMPSON
- PAT MCCORMACK
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We’ll have all the major events covered this July and August as the gold rush begins in Japan.