Welcome to our Olympics and Paralympics blog, which we are launching as the countdown to the 2008 Games begins in earnest.

Wednesday marks exactly 100 days to go to the 8 August opening ceremony (though oddly enough the football tournament starts two days earlier).

Writers from across BBC Sport, Radio 5Live, BBC London and BBC News will bring you the inside track on all 28 Olympic sports, as well as the Games themselves - which are set to be truly fascinating, if controversial, given China's hosting of them.

One of the uncertainties at the moment from a British perspective is whether the Games will turn out to be a triumph - or a failure. My view is...

They will be deemed a success - but potentially a qualified one unless athletics joins the party.

I have seen one prediction which estimated that Britain's medal haul could exceed Athens 2004, which was our most successful Games since 1924 (not including the boycott-hit LA Games in 1984).

But that included three golds on the track, including Kelly Holmes' amazing double, which was for many the enduring story of four years ago and the one which defined British success.

This time around, it may be that Team GB's success is driven almost entirely by sports other than athletics.

As a lover of the way the Olympics can turn sports like archery or curling into big blockbusters for 48 hours, it will be interesting to see whether - if that is the case - minority sports finally get the credit they deserve for 'propping up' Britain's end in the medal table in recent years.

The signs are already very good in many of them;

In cycling, GB are the only team to have entrants in all 10 track events following their 11-medal haul at the World Track Cycling Championships in March.

In boxing, we have qualified eight boxers compared to just one, Amir Khan, in 2004, including lightweight world champion Frankie Gavin.

In rowing, Britain has qualified boats in 11 of the 14 classes and, though the era of Redgrave and Pinsent has passed, we look very strong.

In swimming, Britain performed brilliantly at the World Short Course Championships in early April, but as swimming correspondent Bob Ballard says in his first entry for this blog, 'don't get the impression that Britain has become a swimming superpower'.

In the equestrian events, 2006 Sports Personality winner Zara Phillips looks like leading a very strong team.

And in gymnastics, the Beth Tweddle factor is paying off as she and her female team-mates look set to be joined in Beijing by the rare sight of two British male gymnasts, world pommel horse bronze medallist and 2012 hope Louis Smith and Daniel Keatings.

Indeed, in virtually every sport other than athletics, Britain's chances look as good if not far better than in 2004.

But given track and field's over-riding popularity among the 28 sports, if we fail in the Bird's Nest stadium, will the British public be satisfied?

Of course, if Paula wins the marathon and Kelly Sotherton and Jess Ennis do a one-two in the heptathlon - both possibilities, especially now Carolina Kluft has opted out - it may be that athletics will be deemed to have succeeded and provided the icing on the cake required to turn a good games into a phenomenal one for Britain.

But with the outdoor athletics season not yet under way, and so many athletes' performances still in the balance between excelling or disappointing, we won't know until early July (the British trials are from 12-13 July) what success for Team GB at Beijing might look like.

Claire Stocks is the BBC's interactive editor for Olympic sports. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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