Results of BBC Sport survey with Team GB Olympic athletes revealed

Category: Sport
A survey released by BBC Sport today reveals that Team GB athletes are extremely positive about the lasting effects the Olympics will have on sport in the UK.

273 athletes were interviewed as part of the survey with top line findings including:

  • 59.7% believe that the Olympics has already had a positive impact on facilities in their sport where they live
  • 85% believe that interest in their sports will continue beyond 2012
  • 61% of those who gave a prediction said Team GB would finish third or higher in the Olympic medal table – which would represent their best performance since 1920
  • More than 99% said they hoped to break their personal bests in London

The survey was carried out during Team GB kitting out in Loughborough over the past month.

In depth results:

Almost two thirds of Team GB's athletes believe facilities for Olympic sports in the UK have improved as a result of London 2012.

Of the 273 athletes interviewed in a BBC Sport survey, 163 (59.7%) were adamant it had had a positive impact on facilities where they live.

85% said interest in their sports would grow beyond 2012.

Many of the squad also believe the team will achieve their highest position in the Olympic medal table for 92 years. Of the 165 athletes who gave a prediction, 61% said Team GB would finish third or higher - they have not finished better than fourth since Antwerp 1920. There were 108 athletes who chose not to predict a position for Team GB.

Beijing 2008 diver Tom Daley said the team would finish third, while lightweight boxer Josh Taylor and road cyclist Lizzie Armistead were two of the optimistic 26 who thought that Britain would top the table.

"I think with everything we've put into it, it'll be our best games yet," said women's volleyball player Grace Carter. “I reckon it'll be a challenge, but we'll achieve top three for sure."

There was more optimism regarding their own individual performances with more than 99% hopeful of producing their best form in London. UK Sport, which has invested £300m in Olympic and Paralympic sport during the past four years, set the target of a top-four spot at this Olympics.

Team GB won 47 medals at the Beijing Games four years ago and high-performance sports agency wants 48 medals from at least 12 sports from the home Games. Its chief executive Liz Nicholl told BBC Sport she was delighted with the athletes' positivity and that Olympic sport in Great Britain was "in a good place".

"There is better potential in this team if all goes well as it could," said Nicholl, "We're in a good place. There's real fervour in sport at the moment and the athletes are keen to make the most of what is a unique occasion."

UK Sport predominantly deals with funding for athletes and coaches, while the improvement and development of facilities is partly under the jurisdiction of the national public sporting bodies of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Sport England invested £1.5bn of government and National Lottery funding into grassroots sport since London won the right to host the Games in July 2005.

163 athletes believed the Games have made a difference to facilities available for their sport in their local area with only 33 believing the Games has made no difference, while the remainder were either unsure or had little or no knowledge of improvements.

Regarding legacy, the percentage was higher. Many stated that interest in their respective sports had already started growing and that it was likely to continue.

"Water polo in Britain run mini-polo which is for young kids, which is a fun version of the game, and that's seen a real increase," said 33-year-old Team GB water-polo captain Craig Figes.

But not all British Olympians were as optimistic about the future of their sport.

"I wouldn't have thought there would be a large spike after the Games," said 40-year-old south Wales-based shooter Elena Allen. "The cost of shooting is so high, which it wasn't four years ago. That will put people off."

The athletes in the survey also gave their verdicts on which sport would be the most successful for Team GB at London 2012. Of the 273 asked, 83 declined to answer the question, while 13 chose more than one sport. Of the 177 who picked out a single sport, they gave their answers based on medal totals and/or overall performance.

Cycling came out top with 46.8% ahead of rowing which was second most popular with 23.7%. Swimming, sailing, boxing and athletics followed, with 13 of the 177 naming other sports.

Notes to Editors

During the past few weeks, BBC Sport asked Britain's Olympic-bound athletes a series of questions about their hopes, those for the team and about their respective sports.

Below are the results of the athletes surveyed:

Team GB athletes interviewed

273 out of 542 that make up the team.

Will they perform best at the Games?

More than 99% said that they would.

What position will Team GB achieve in medal table?

Results: 108 opted not to give a position; 49 said 4th; 59 said 3rd; 9 said 2nd; 26 said 1st, 10 said 4th or better, 7 said top 3, two said top 5, one said top six, one said 5th, one said top 10.

Which sport will Team GB perform the best in?

Results: 83 did not want to name a single sport, while 13 chose more than one sport so 177 answered.

Of those: 83 cycling; 42 rowing; 17 swimming; 5 athletics; 6 boxing; 11 sailing and 13 named other sports.

Have facilities specific to their sport improved in their region as a result of the Games?

163 said yes and 33 said no.

• The rest said that they did not know, with many stating that they had moved away from their home counties to train elsewhere. Some were also brought up/been training in another country.

• Some also did not know whether there was a direct link between London getting the Games and there being improvements in facilities.

• Some patterns emerged: Several hockey players mentioned the introduction of Rush Hockey (simple, cheaper form) and schemes to get women back to the game; in shooting there are fewer facilities with some training/practising on their own farms; there are not many handball facilities; rhythmic gymnasts have to travel to find a hall with a high enough ceiling; many of the volleyball players have been playing abroad and swimmers said that new 50m pools have been popping up and/or revamped (including Plymouth, Lancashire, Royal Commonwealth in Edinburgh, Bristol, Leeds and Corby).

Will there be interest in their sport beyond the Games?

The majority (232) said yes, they hoped so. Two said no, while 39 did not know, with some stating that it could be dependent on the sport's success at Games and future funding.

DL/SB