By Duncan Mackay at UK Sport in London

UK Sport_Mission_2012_BOardJuly 4 - Team GB's official target at London 2012 will be winning at least 48 medals, one more than Beijing four years ago, and retaining its place among the top four countries, it was announced today.

In 2008, Britain finished fourth in the table with 19 gold medals and a total of 47 medals from across 11 sports, but Government agency UK Sport is now expecting more medals at Britain's first home Games for 64 years.

Team GB's stretch target is a total of 70 medals, which would leave Britain challenging Russia for third place overall. 

China are again expected to win the most medals at London, repeating their performance in Beijing four years ago when they won a total of 110 medals, 51 of which were gold.

That left them ahead of the United States, whose total of 110 medals was greater but included only 36 gold.

Fourth place in 2012 is the target first set when the Government announced increased public money on top of the National Lottery in the wake of London being awarded the Games seven years ago.

More than £300 million ($468 million/€373 million) has been invested in Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes over the past four years alone and each sport has agreed a performance target range with UK Sport, who distribute National Lottery funding.

"This is a significant milestone for British sport," said Baroness Sue Campbell, the chair of UK Sport.

"Thanks to the backing of our Government and The National Lottery over the past 15 years, and more recently the investment we have received from Team 2012, we are able to confirm that our goal of top four in the Olympic medal table at our home Games remains on track.

"I have no doubt that our athletes will do us proud, and am confident that we have created a sustainable high performance system set to ensure that London 2012 marks the beginning, not the end, of our ambitions for British Olympic and Paralympic sport."

UK Sport have unveiled their final "Mission 2012 Tracker Boards" which have been monitoring the progress of Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Some 28 sports are now on the highest "green" rating compared to 15 sports ahead of Beijing 2008.

Britain's most successful sport at London is predicted to be cycling, where up to a total of 10 medals are being forecast.

In Beijing the team won a total of 14, eight of them gold, with Sir Chris Hoy (pictured) winning three of them.

Sir Chris_Hoy_beats_Jason_Kenny_Beijing_2008
But since then the world governing body, the UCI have changed the rules which limits the number of competitors that a country can send to compete.

"At British Cycling, we welcome UK Sport's medal targets as part of the responsibility to deliver on the public funding we receive to drive elite performance in our sport," said David Brailsford, the sport's performance director.

"Today's announcement does not change our priorities.

"In London, as in Sydney [2000], Athens [2004] and Beijing [2008], our efforts will be concentrated on helping British cyclists perform to the best of their ability."

There is also no surprise in where UK Sport are expecting medals to come from rowing and sailing, Britain's most successful sports in Beijing behind cycling, with them predicted to win up to six and five each respectively.

Athletics, which underperformed in the Chinese capital with only four medals and the only gold coming from Christine Ohuruogu (pictured below in white vest) in the 400 metres, is targeting up to eight in these Games.

Christine Ohuruogu_crossing_the_line_Beijing_2008
Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson backed Team GB to be successful at London 2012.

"Team GB goes into London 2012 as the best prepared team in British history," he said.

"Funding from the Exchequer and the National Lottery has enabled UK Sport to put in place a high performance system that works, as demonstrated in Beijing in 2008 and by numerous fantastic performances since then.

"Expectations for medal success are high but I am sure our athletes will rise to the challenge.

"London 2012 is the culmination of many years of training and hard work and I wish all our athletes the very best of luck."

The last time Britain hosted the Olympics in 1948 they finished 12th overall behind Sweden, Hungary, Finland, Turkey and Denmark with a total of 23 medals.

Of those three were gold with an incredible 14 silver, demonstrating the narrow margin between success and failure.

But there is no chance of Team GB challenging the performance of the squad in 1908, the first time London hosted the Games.

Then Britain topped the medals table for the only time in its history with a total of 146 medals, 99 more than its closest rival, the United States.

An amazing 56 of them were gold.

But nevertheless UK Sport chief executive Liz Nichol is hopeful of Britain enjoying its second best ever performance in the 116-year history of the Olympics.

"Beijing 2008 was an outstanding Games for British athletes, and we knew at the time that bettering or even matching that achievement would not be easy, and should not be underestimated," she said.

"Since Beijing the performance system has stepped up another gear, and we really believe that the nation will be inspired this summer by our athletes winning more medals in more sports.

"The Mission is telling us that we can, and we will."

For a full list of Team GB London 2012 medal targets sport-by-sport pdfclick here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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