Rio Olympics 2016: Team GB's top 12 gold medal hopes

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer
Royals send good luck message to Team GB

Sixty-five medals in 2012, a target of at least 48 for Team GB in Rio.

But where will the gold medals come for Britain?

With the caveat that sport at the elite level offers no guarantees - and that no blame can be laid at our door should overly large wagers on the following not come off - here are 12 of the best shots for the coming weeks.

Check on our progress to see if our tips came off or not...

Adam Peaty

Adam Peaty
Peaty was the first man to swim 100m breaststroke in under 58 seconds, setting a world record of 57.92

Event: 100m breaststroke

Final: Sunday 7 August (02:53 BST on Monday)

He is the reigning world, European and Commonwealth champion, and the current world record holder. These might be 21-year-old Adam Peaty's first Olympic Games, but the kid from Uttoxeter who grew up scared of water has appeared intimidated by little else since his big breakthrough two years ago. It makes sense: this is a man who relaxes by listening to NWA and practising target shooting with an air rifle. He will have to beat South Africa's 2012 Olympic champion Cameron der Burgh and his GB team-mate Ross Murdoch, but his mother is so confident of her son's chances that she is taking her first flight to watch him in person in Brazil.


David Florence

David Florence
Florence has won nine World Championships medals, three of them gold

Event: Canoe single

Final: Tuesday 9 August (19:16 BST)

Having failed to make the C1 final in London when world number one, and then having had to settle for silver in C2 behind surprise British champions Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie, the 33-year-old is desperate to go one better than both four years ago and in Beijing. Once again world number one, David Florence has been part of five separate training camps on the Rio course and feels as at home on it as he did on Lee Valley's white water. The Scot once applied for the European Space Agency's astronaut training programme; while Tim Peake beat him to that honour, Florence could take his own giant leap at his third Olympic Games.

RESULT: 10th

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning
Glover and Stanning's gold at London 2012 came on the fifth day of competition

Event: Women's pair rowing

Final: Friday 12 August (14:24 BST)

The winners of Team GB's first gold at the London Olympics are the clearest favourites among their nation's rowers to win gold again here. Unbeaten together since 2011, a run of 36 races, the two women are complementary characters - Helen Glover fiercely competitive, Heather Stanning calm and methodical - and unstoppable together. Since London, army officer Stanning has completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan; Glover has got engaged to kids' TV presenter Steve Backshall. After Rio, the army beckons again for one, marriage for the other. For the next two weeks, it is once again all about the gold.

Sir Bradley Wiggins

Sir Bradley Wiggins
Wiggins won three Olympic titles on the track before winning time trial gold on the road at London 2012

Event: Team pursuit

Final: Friday 12 August (22:42 BST)

At 36 Sir Bradley Wiggins has done it all - four Olympic gold medals, a multiple world champion, Tour de France winner, holder of the Hour record. These Games represent probably his last major tilt, but what a swansong it would be. One more medal and he will surpass Sir Chris Hoy as his country's most decorated Olympic athlete, reaching eight. Along with Ed Clancy, Owain Doull and Steven Burke he is part of the outstanding quartet in the competition; anything less than gold, for a nation that has won the last two Olympic titles, would rank as a grave disappointment.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill
Ennis-Hill set her British heptathlon record of 6,955 points at London 2012 - the world record of 7291 is held by Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1988)

Event: Heptathlon

Final: First day Friday 12 August, concludes Saturday 13 August (final event - 03:05 BST on Sunday)

Jessica Ennis-Hill doesn't see herself as favourite to retain the title she won so memorably in Stratford's Olympic Stadium. In the four years since she has suffered injury, taken time out to give birth to son Reggie and had to balance training for the toughest event in her sport with the demands of motherhood. She has, however, won back her world title, and it is that ability to go beyond her best on the biggest occasions that sets her apart once again. Her greatest threat is likely to come from compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson, keen to put her own nightmare at last summer's Worlds in Beijing behind her, but having run her second fastest hurdles ever at last month's Anniversary Games Ennis-Hill is coming good when it most matters once again.

Laura Trott

Laura Trott
Trott has won 11 World Championships medals, seven of which are gold

Event: Team pursuit and omnium

Finals: Team pursuit Saturday 13 August (21:14 BST), omnium concludes Tuesday 16 August (21:05 BST)

No British woman has ever won three Olympic gold medals, but Laura Trott could double her two from London should she continue her upturn in form over the summer. Britain's team pursuit women's squad were unbeaten at the World Championships from 2011 to 2014, and while they slipped to silver in 2015 and bronze earlier this year, reports from their training base at the Manchester velodrome have indicated that they are returning to their best. In the omnium Trott must hold off veteran American Sarah Hammer as well as Australia's Annette Edmondson; with seven world and 10 European titles to her name already, she has the track record to start as narrow favourite.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray
Murray will be Team GB's flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Rio

Event: Tennis

Final: Sunday 14 August (Time to be confirmed)

Andy Murray's triumph on Centre Court four summers ago marked the start of his first golden period - putting behind him the defeat in that year's Wimbledon final by Roger Federer, setting up his US Open victory a month later and then his first Wimbledon singles title the following summer. He comes to Rio off the back of a second Wimbledon victory arguably even more impressive than that of 2013. And with Federer and Stan Wawrinka absent through injury and Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic one of several top 10 players to pull out blaming the Zika virus, the greatest threat, as so often, will come from world number one Novak Djokovic. Murray will also take aim at the doubles with brother Jamie and may yet also join Heather Watson in the mixed doubles, having won silver with Laura Robson in 2012.

Charlotte Dujardin

Charlotte Dujardin
Dujardin is the Olympic, European and World champion and the holder of three world records

Event: Dressage

Final: Monday 15 August (14:00 BST)

Before 2012 no British rider had ever won a medal in an Olympic dressage. Charlotte Dujardin, aboard her horse Valegro, won gold in both individual and team events, and the same partnership returns in Rio with both greater profile and greater expectations. Dujardin describes her mount as greedy and unaffectionate, but his ability to deal with the travel, noise and pressure of an overseas Olympics could see them triumph again.

Jade Jones

Jade Jones
Jones was voted the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year for 2012

Event: 57kg taekwondo

Final: Wednesday 17 August (02:00 BST on Thursday)

The youngest British gold medallist in London, Jade Jones has spoken of her desire not to be a one-hit wonder. Having won 10 of her last 13 tournaments she is certainly in form, and while old rival Eva Calvo Gomez is her biggest threat (Jones lost four of her first six bouts against the Spaniard, before winning the last two) the two cannot meet until either the final or bronze medal contest. Don't expect Jones to back down; the 23-year-old says she takes pleasure in being known as someone who kicks people in the head for a living.

Alistair Brownlee

Alistair Brownlee
Brownlee's competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was the first Briton home in 12th place

Event: Triathlon

Final: Thursday 18 August (15:00 BST)

Not once in the four years since he won gold in London's Hyde Park has the elder Brownlee brother won a world title. Some of that is down to a persistent ankle injury, some to the consistent class of Spain's Javier Gomez. With surgery last year having fixed his ankle and a broken elbow ruling out Gomez, Alistair's peerless racing ability in the one-off big days make him a clear favourite once again. It will not be straightforward - younger brother Jonny is looking to upgrade the bronze he won in London, while Maria Mola and Fernando Alarza have both won key World Series races this summer but the punchy configuration of the Rio course - with a sea swim off Copacabana beach and bike leg that sees eight ascents of the steep Rua Professor Gastao - suits his strengths and preferred tactics perfectly.

Nicola Adams

Nicola Adams
Adams is the reigning Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European champion at flyweight

Event: Flyweight

Final: Saturday 20 August (18:00 BST)

The first woman in Olympic history to win a boxing gold medal, Nicola Adams is now looking to become the first Briton since Harry Mallin in 1924 to retain an Olympic title in the ring. The 33-year-old is in form - she became world champion in May - and while the woman she beat in the flyweight final in London, China's Ren Cancan, is back again for revenge, Adams believes she is in better shape yet than four summers ago.

Mo Farah

Mo Farah
Before his triple-double golden run, Farah won world 5,000m gold in 2011 and finished second in the 10,000m that year

Events: 5,000m and 10,000m

Finals: 10,000m: Saturday 13 August (01:25 BST on Sunday). 5,000m: Saturday 20 August (01:30 BST on Sunday)

So many global golds has Mo Farah now won over the past five years that he arrives in Rio chasing an unprecedented quadruple-double - a fourth successive triumph at a major international games over both 5,000m and 10,000m. Having pulled that off in spectacular fashion in London, he repeated the trick at the Worlds in both Moscow and Beijing, running each time with pretty much identical tactics. No Briton has ever won three Olympic gold medals in athletics; while Ethiopia's trio of Muktar Edris, Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet will look to gang up on him in the 10, the 5 - with three Kenyans, three Ugandans and a midweek heat to get past as well - could be harder yet. Farah, time after time, has proved himself equal to the challenge.


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