SPORT TALK: Can the Brits improve on a super 2011?

Jordan Bailey-Smith
Jordan Bailey-Smith
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AS I sat wrapping presents in the run up to Christmas, I marvelled at the achievements of our sportsmen and women whilst watching the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

The wealth of success from British athletes in 2011 was astounding and it is sad to see that sports we underachieve in, such as football, are given more press than those in which we are currently excelling.

This ceremony, though, brilliantly highlighted how much talent we have as a nation across a wide array of sports, with the last ten winners of the award coming from eight different sports.

2011 was a great year for Britons. Mark Cavendish won the Tour de France’s Green Jersey, as well as receiving an MBE in November.

Mo Farah and Dai Greene won gold at the World Championships in South Korea and as well as becoming the number one Test Cricket side in the world, England managed to reclaim the Ashes down under for the first time in 24 years.

British dominance continued in golf. Luke Donald became world number one, Darren Clarke won the Open at Royal St George’s and Rory McIlroy finished a record 16 under par to win the US Open Championship.

This was a year to be proud of our country and this year could be the same. I’m not the most patriotic person in the world but the hysteria of this summer’s Olympics has got me giddier than I was on Christmas Day.

The last time we hosted an Olympic Games was in 1948, and if it were to be another 64 years until the next time the Games come to London then it could be the only one many of us see in our lifetime.

Team GB finished fourth in the final medal table for Beijing 2008, behind heavyweights China, the USA and Russia, a commendable feat considering our population is not even half that of the top three.

Cycling brought the biggest medal haul for us in the last Olympics.

Most notable was Sir Chris Hoy’s three gold medals, making him the first Briton to achieve this since swimmer Henry Taylor in 1908.

England’s football team secured qualification for Euro 2012 in what wasn’t exactly a difficult group, but nonetheless victory in Poland and Ukraine would be a great way to see in the Olympics.

With so much expectation resting on our athletes this year it will be interesting to see if they can emulate the successes of 2011.

But I for one will definitely be tuning in to see how they fare.