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Every Olympics summer we sit in front of the TV, watch sports we’ve probably not even thought about for four (or five!) years and cheer on our nation’s athletes. For those in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Olympics is a perfect opportunity to inject some good feeling into the sporting summer.
GB is not expected to deliver as many medals this year as the country has in previous Games. That’s largely due to the likes of the cycling team losing a tech advantage over rival nations, and superstars from 2012 retiring. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some GB gold medal hopes to keep an eye on in Tokyo!
Here, Paddy Power brings you five gold medal hopes you won’t want to miss…
Women’s Lightweight Double Skulls
Rowing has been a GB speciality for years and both Emily Craig and Imogen Grant are looking to better Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger’s silver in 2016 when they hit the water at Tokyo’s Sea Forest Waterway.
Craig and Grant won bronze at the 2019 World Championships in Ottensheim and their partnership has grown further over the past two years. They are now favourites to win the lightweight doubles skulls and look on course to pip the Netherlands’ Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis, and Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini of Italy to gold.
Great Britain has a viable gold medal winner in a sprint race for the first time since Christine Ohuruogu and at the age of 25 Dina Asher-Smith is now in her prime. The Londoner won 200m World Championships gold in 2019 where she set the national record of 21.88 seconds.
Asher-Smith finished fifth in this event in the Rio Olympics but has been running sub-23 seconds for three years now. Her biggest rival is Gabby Thomas, the 24-year-old American who is the current favourite in the Olympics odds. Thomas has a 200m PB of 21.61 seconds, which is 0.27 seconds faster than Asher-Smith has ever run.
Men’s Team Pursuit
Four of the five names mentioned above will represent Team GB in the men’s team pursuit at the Games – and it’s safe to say experienced rider Ed Clancy will be one of them. Clancy, 36, was part of the team pursuit troop that won gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016. This is Team GB’s discipline and they’re unlikely to let it slip in Tokyo.
Granted, a number of rival nations have caught up with GB’s technical advantages but that shouldn’t impact on this race. Great Britain and Northern Ireland are notorious for breaking records in the team pursuit… so don’t be surprised if that’s smashed too this summer.
There is perhaps no better athlete to add to an Olympics acca than Adam Peaty. The 6ft 3in Englishman won Olympic gold in the 2016 100m breaststroke and to date has claimed eight world and 16 European titles. No-one in the world swims breaststroke like Peaty, who smashed the world record when he broke onto the scene in 2014.
Peaty torpedoes through the water in a single event: the breaststroke. While the likes of Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe won medals over multiple swimming disciplines, for Peaty it’s all about dominating his speciality. He is almost guaranteed to win again and his main competitor this year is that world record clock.
Sailing might not be the first Olympics event you tune into this summer but if you’re seeking a GB medal winner that Giles Scott’s attempt in the Men’s Finn could be for you. Scott is defending Finn champion after winning gold in Rio during a dominant display on the water.
The Finn as a discipline was first introduced at the Olympics in 1952 and is not scheduled to be included in the 2024 staging of the Games. So, Scott perhaps has this one last chance to claim another medal on his own. He is a four-time world champion and three-time European champion in this discipline. It’s no wonder GB are dominant in the Finn, with Sir Ben Ainslie and Ian Percey winning gold in this discipline in a streak that goes back to 2000.
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