The Olympic Story part 2: British excellence in London?

Mo Farah of GBR
In part 1 of this series we analyzed why Great Britain (GBR) fell short of reaching a better spot than 6th in the GSN Beijing Olympics ranking, given that  it was 4th in the medals table.
The key factors were a lower number of sports with points than its immediate rivals (Germany, Australia), and a poor performance in high-scoring team ball sports such as Basketball, Football and Volleyball.
And the good news? Team GBR scored valuable points in some of the classic Olympic sports, as well as excelling in several others. The lion’s share of GBR’s points in Beijing came from Athletics (26% of the total, adding up Track, Field and Marathon), Swimming (14,7% of points), Cycling (13% adding up Road and Track) and Sailing (10,6% of points). Other key sports where GBR struck gold were Rowing (189 points), Hockey (140 points) and Boxing (126 points).
We will review first the quintessential Olympic discipline, Athletics, and move on to other sports in the future parts of our series.
GBR were 6th overall in Athletics, at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, behind the USA, Russia and three “minor” but exceptionally talented countries such as Kenya, Jamaica and Ethiopia. In other words, we were the first of the European countries (counting Russia as a separate continent…), beating Cuba and Australia in the process. Behind the Oz we find Belarus and Ukraine in 9th and 10th place. It’s worth noting that “major” European countries such as France, Spain and Germany lagged behind in this discipline, as well as hosts China, who couldn’t do better than 13th place in the most classic of Olympic disciplines.
GBR Athletics Women fared better than Men, finishing 5th in their gender ranking while the boys slumped into 9th place. The Ladies’ success owed as much to a gold and bronze medal (400m and 400m hurdles), as to consistent placements in the top 8 in the 4x400m relay, the 100m, the Marathon, Long Jump, Javelin and Heptathlon. A good mix of Track, Field and Marathon and a sound base for London 2012.
As a first indication for 2012, how did GBR do at the 2011 Athletics World Championships? GBR finished 5th overall in Athletics, thus improving over Beijing; the Women ranked 8th while the boys improved and finished 5th. The Women’s narrow range was the problem: two silvers, the 1500m and Heptathlon, and 3 placements and that was it, exactly half the counts (5 vs 10) than in Beijing. Also, there was no follow-up to the excellent team performance in 400m/400m hurdles and relay shown in Beijing by Christine Ohuruogu and Tasha Danvers.
Now Danvers’ injury problems have virtually closed her career while there is still hope that Ohuruogu, after being disqualified in Daegu 2011, could resume her previous form and defend her Olympic title.
So, provided that GBR Athletics ladies polish up their performance vs the 2011 Athletics World Championships, and that the Men confirm their 2011 form (Mo Farah in middle distance running, Dai Greene in the 400m hurdles, Philips Idowu in triple jump) a 4th – 5th place overall in London is on the cards. A finish in the top three seems something of a dream, as it would mean that one of the three “greats”, the USA, Russia and China, seriously mess up their performance.