David Owen: "70 medals for Britain might not be out of the question" and other predictions
Sunday, 19 August 2012
Prediction: "If absolutely everything that could go right did go right, a tally of as many as 70 medals for Team GB might not be out of the question."
Verdict: Spot on. Britain ended with 65 medals, but it is easy to think of disappointments – Mark Cavendish, Victoria Pendleton, Sarah Stevenson, various swimmers – who might have taken the total even higher.
Prediction: "A total of between 55 and 60 medals is more likely."
Verdict: Wrong, but not embarrassingly so.
Prediction: "Great Britain will beat its Beijing 2008 medals haul of 47, but may, nonetheless, fail to hang onto fourth spot in the medals table."
Verdict: Hopelessly wrong on the second count. What I completely failed to foresee was the high proportion of the home team's medal haul that would be gold.
This meant that Britain managed to climb another place in the table to a heady third, finishing above Russia in spite of winning 17 fewer medals.
My prediction of some 80 medals for Russia at least proved reasonably accurate: they won 82.
Prediction: "Britain's main challenger for fourth spot is likely to be Germany, which managed 41 medals in 2008, but should do better this time. I am also expecting a jump from France."
Verdict: Wrong, wrong, wrong. Germany did edge up to 44 medals, but only 11 of these were gold, against a stunning 29 for Britain.
After a strong start, performances by French athletes, with the exception of the handball team, tended to disappoint in the second week.
This left them with 34 London 2012 medals, down from 41 in Beijing.
Prediction: "Sliding down the medals table, I expect to see Australia, Japan, Kenya and Jamaica."
Verdict: Correct on all counts – Australia won only half as many gold medals as in Beijing and slid from sixth-place in the medals table to 10th; Japan won 50 per cent more medals, but fewer golds and dropped from eighth to 11th; Kenya fell from 13th to 28th, thanks partly to Briton Mo Farah's golden double; Jamaica dipped from 14th to 18th, with two fewer golds than in Beijing.
Prediction: "Medal table climbers should include Cuba, Brazil and Kazakhstan."
Verdict: Two out of three – Cuba rose from 28th to 15th, Kazakhstan from 29th to 12th.
Brazil did edge up from 23rd place to 22nd, courtesy of one extra silver and one bronze compared to its Beijing total.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must have been hoping for a much more marked improvement: the Games always benefits from a strong home team, and Brazil are next in line for the summer Olympics and Paralympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Prediction: "Britain will win more Olympic medals at Eton Dorney than the Velodrome."
Verdict: Correct – although the track cyclists' domination was complete, the one rider (or team) per country per event rule restricted them to nine medals.
Britain's rowers matched this tally, and the two sprint canoeing medals towards the end of the Games took the Eton Dorney total to 11.
Prediction: "Britain will win more Olympic medals outside the Olympic Park than in it."
Verdict: Correct – with the home nation's swimmers and, to an extent, athletes underperforming (although four track and field golds was very impressive), this was not even close.
Prediction: "The surprise hit of the Games: women's boxing."
Verdict: Correct – Nicola Adams; Katie Taylor. Enough said.
Prediction: "Britain's women footballers will do better than the men."
Verdict: Wrong – both exited in the quarterfinals, although I could argue that the women made a better fist of the cards they were dealt, and they did beat Brazil.
One further prediction – "Britain's Paralympians will top their medals table by a country mile" – has yet to be proved right or wrong.
But I am quietly confident.
David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup and London 2012. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed here.