The 2012 Olympics have come to an end. The medal table is a reductive way to look at things as the count doesn’t include the emotions of the past two weeks nor does it reflect the subtle differences in prestige between different competitions.
My personal highlight was the women’s road race, incredible drama all the way to the finish. Vos was the obvious pick for the race but the outcome was uncertain for a long time and even when she won it was impressive; plus nobody questioned the result, unlike the men’s race. Chris Hoy’s keirin gold was very impressive, he appeared to launch is effort far too early but just kept going.
I still think the track program needs a big review ahead of Rio 2016. The team pursuit is good but without the individual pursuit we’re missing something; nobody would scrap the 400 metres in track and field and leave the relay race behind. As others have said the omnium, whilst exciting, is still the kind of race that beginners do as they try to work out where their speciality is and it’s not the velodrome’s version of the decathlon since the races are all too similar.
There is talk of increasing the number of medals on the track. I gather this could be linked to the introduction of skateboarding to the 2012 Olympics. The inclusion of BMX in 2008 was overseen by the UCI and is part of the IOC’s move to encourage alternative “generation X” sports (thus ensuring market saturation for the sponsors). The IOC is keen to bring skateboarding to the Olympics and the UCI is the chosen governing body. It’s not as goofy as it sounds, if the UCI can
seize control of oversee the introduction of skateboarding then the IOC might be willing to award more medals to track cycling
One thing that’s not changing for Rio is the generous funding of the British team. The government has announced it will continue generous funding of elite sport and we can expect cycling to get a substantial share of money and presumably medals in Rio. Perhaps the question is whether Dave Brailsford stays with the track team or focusses more on the road. British radio have done a good profile of him, you can listen here.
Will other teams catch up?
When one nation has led on the track they have been imitated, even had their staff poached. It is one thing to reach the top but staying there is very hard which makes the current British success more impressive, coming after Beijing four years ago. Now it is hard to know who the challengers are. Australia could come back, the French don’t seem to have the money and perhaps instead the Chinese and Russians will take over, or at least claim a larger share of the medals?