Funding body UK Sport has strayed from setting a specific medal target given the lack of recent international competition. However, there is a general expectation that the team will be strong enough to surpass the 51 medals secured in Beijing in 2008. But a downturn in previously strong medal sports like cycling and gymnastics is likely to see the team come up short of Rio’s total.
Telegraph Sport identifies 20 Team GB members with the best chances of climbing the medal rostrum in Tokyo and lists all those who have claimed gold so far.
Peaty defended his 100m breaststroke title in Tokyo in style. He not just delivered Great Britain’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Games but, after his triumph five years ago in Brazil, he has now also become the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title.
Peaty had not lost a 100m breaststroke of any meaning since 2014 and that sequence was never in any serious threat here, with the 26-year-old finally unleashing what he calls the ‘Beast’ to demolish a field of the word’s best swimmers like it was a school gala.
A time of 57.37 was marginally outside the Olympic record he set in Rio, but still the fifth fastest in history and clear of the rest of the field by well over half a second.
Tom Daley is an Olympic champion. Six little words Britain has waited for ever since he burst onto the international stage as an absurdly precocious child four Olympics ago have become a reality.
“To finally have this gold medal … I’ve been diving for 20 years, it’s my fourth Olympic Games,” he said. “Lots of people would have counted me out, being the older person, but I’m in the best shape physically.”
Adding to bronze medals won at the last two Olympics, Daley completed his hat-trick of podiums with the performance of his life alongside Matty Lee in the 10m synchronised platform in Tokyo on Monday. In the process, he became the first British diver ever to win three Olympic medals.
Tom Pidcock underlined his status as the most exciting young cyclist in Britain as he stormed to victory in the men’s Olympic mountain bike race in Izu.
Having already collected junior or under-23 world titles in cyclo-cross, mountain biking and on the road, the 21-year-old Yorkshireman took things to another level with an Olympic crown on Monday as he rode clear of the field, having time to grab a Union flag and hold it aloft as he crossed the line.
Even with the celebrations, his margin of victory was 20 seconds over world number one Mathias Flueckiger – the only man who had looked capable of staying in touching distance once Pidcock had made his move midway through the 28.25km race.
Team GB have secured their first ever one-two finish in an Olympic swimming event for 113 years, with Tom Dean beating Tokyo flat-mate Duncan Scott to gold by 0.04 sec in a dramatic finale to the men’s 200m freestyle.
After the excitement of Magic Monday, the gold rush continued early on Tuesday morning with the swimmers adding their second gold medal of the Games to take Team GB’s tally to four after only four days of Olympic competition. It makes it the best ever start to a summer Olympics.
Dean had twice contracted Covid-19 over the past year, including a “very severe” infection in January, and the 21-year-old’s extraordinary victory also makes him the first British man to win an individual freestyle swimming event since Henry Taylor at the London Olympics way back in 1908.
Great Britain’s swimmers raced to further Olympic history on Wednesday morning, clinching gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay to make it a hat-trick of victories in the pool for the first time since 1908.
Tom Dean and Duncan Scott, who had finished first and second in the individual 200m freestyle on Tuesday morning, were joined in the relay team by James Guy and Matthew Richards and delivered a dominant performance, winning in a time of 6 min 58.58 sec.
It was a new national and European record, more than three seconds ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee in silver, and only 0.03 sec outside the world record.
Team GB’s gold medal hopefuls
Dina Asher-Smith: athletics
Asher-Smith is the greatest female sprinter Britain has ever produced. She confirmed her status as a potential world-beater when she claimed three gold medals (100m, 200m and 4x100m) at the 2018 European Championships. A year later she won world 200m gold and 100m silver, breaking her own British record in both records.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, of the Bahamas, is the heavy favourite for gold in Asher-Smith’s favoured 200m event but the Briton is high on confidence and knows how to perform on the biggest stage. Her 100m medal chances have also been boosted by American Sha’Carri Richardson’s absence in Tokyo due to serving a one-month suspension for testing positive for cannabis.
Laura Kenny: track cycling
Kenny sits one behind Dame Katherine Grainger’s five-gold medal haul on the domestic all-time list, having won double gold in the team pursuit and omnium at the last two Games.
The British team pursuit outfit were pipped to silver at the 2019 worlds but they will almost certainly be in the medal mix again in Tokyo. It wouldn’t be an Olympic team pursuit competition if not.
Having competed in the Madison and team pursuit, Kenny rounds off her third Olympics by attempting to successfully defend the omnium title. She returned from injury to win European omnium silver in November 2020. Like taekwondo’s Jones, she is looking to become the first British female to win gold at three successive Olympics.
Jason Kenny: track cycling
Taking part in his fourth Olympics, Jason Kenny already has the joint-highest number of gold medals for Britain and could go clear at the top, ahead of Sir Chris Hoy, with a seventh in Tokyo. He currently boasts seven Olympic medals in total, one short of Sir Bradley Wiggins’ career tally of eight.
He has won the last two Olympic sprint titles, although age is not on the 33-year-old’s side and he failed to make the quarter-finals of the men’s sprint at the last World Championships. Saying that, both British Cycling and Kenny know how to peak for the Olympics and his team sprint colleagues will be doing everything they can to extend his golden run in that event.
Laura Muir: athletics
Muir has just missed out on a global medal so many times during her career, but the absence of some of her main rivals over her preferred 1,500m gives her an excellent chance of making the podium in Tokyo.
She qualified for both the 800m and 1500m – and recorded the second fastest time by a British woman in the former at the Monaco Diamond League earlier this month. However the Scot has opted to put all her eggs in the one basket, competing in just the 1500m in Tokyo. It is a decision that the clearly in-form runner could well look back on fondly in a few weeks if she returns home with a medal.
Pat McCormack: boxing
McCormack has proved a class apart from most of his Olympic rivals over this extended cycle and will start as a clear favourite for welterweight boxing gold.
His recent win over Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy – who denied him world gold in 2019 – was a clear sign of his intent to go all the way in the Japanese capital.
After claiming two historic gold medals in Rio on the pommel and floor, Whitlock has restricted his focus to his favoured pommel for Tokyo.
Despite his recent fall on his return to competition at the European Championships, the 28-year-old will start as favourite – although he is sure to be facing stiff competition from Ireland’s rising star Rhys McClenaghan, who won Commonwealth gold ahead of his older rival in 2018.
Charlotte Worthington: BMX freestyle
In 2019 former chef Worthington, who only took up the sport as a 20-year-old having learned the tricks on a scooter, won the inaugural British and European titles, before becoming the first ever British woman to win a world medal in the discipline, taking bronze at the World Championships in Chengdu.
With BMX freestyle making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, the chance of making history is up for grabs and Worthington is sure to be in the mix, although she will have to find a way past three-time world champion Hannah Roberts, the 19-year-old trailblazing American.
Brown, 13, will become Britain’s youngest summer Olympian when she competes in the skateboard park competition in the second week of the Games.
But the young prodigy stands every chance of a medal, having qualified in third place and also claimed a World Championship bronze medal in Sao Paolo in 2019. She returned to action a year after suffering a life-threatening injury and took silver at the Dew Tour before X Games gold.
Ben Maher: equestrian
Making a fourth Olympic appearance, London 2012 showjumping gold medallist Maher heads to Tokyo with two confidence-giving wins on the Global Champions Tour this spring.
His ride, Explosion W, already has a serious reputation as a winner with the 12-year-old chestnut one of the most consistent performers on the circuit and boasting a record that is hard to match.
Joseph Choong: modern pentathlon
Modern pentathlon has featured at every Olympics since 1912 but Britain have never won a men’s individual medal. Joe Choong (and team-mate Jamie Cooke) could end that drought.
Having finished tenth on his Olympics debut in Rio, Choong returns to the team having won gold at the 2019 World Cup Final, in doing so securing himself the title of world number one.
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre: sailing
Mills won sailing 470 silver at London 2012 and gold at Rio 2016, both times with Saskia Clark as her crew. She now has a new partner in McIntyre, whose father won an Olympic sailing gold in 1988, and together they won the world title in 2019.
A Tokyo medal for Mills would make her the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time.
Matt Coward-Holley: shooting
Rugby’s loss is shooting’s gain with Coward-Holley having returned to the sport after injury dashed his oval-ball dreams.
His transition from double trap (no longer an Olympic discipline) to trap has also paid dividends with world gold in 2019, followed by the European title this year. Currently ranked world number two in Olympic trap.