Last weekend, Great Britain’s women’s and men’s hockey teams both earned wins that secured their places in Paris.
Describing the double qualification as “really important”, especially after England’s Lionesses failed to secure a place for British women’s football last month, Anson said he was confident Team GB could achieve a fifth successive top-five finish in the medal table.
“We think [that] is a realistic, ongoing sustainable target, but what drives us is making sure all the athletes there have the best environment to prepare and train, and go into competition with the best chance of succeeding,” he said.
Team GB’s 376 competitors finished in fourth place at the last Olympics in Tokyo, with 65 medals, 22 of which were golds, their second-best overseas Games.
Anson said while hosts France would pose more of a threat than at Tokyo 2020, Russia’s contingent would be drastically reduced to “a hundred or less” athletes in Paris after the IOC decided that competitors from the country who qualify in individual sports would have to compete as neutrals because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian teams will remain banned.
Speaking at a ‘Path to Paris’ event at the Graystone Skatepark in Salford, Anson said he believed the urban sports in Paris would have “a massive impact” with younger viewers, especially now venues will have spectators after they were banned because of Covid in Tokyo.
“We’ve got some amazing skateboarding and BMX athletes,” said Anson. “The break-dancers are trying to qualify.
“I look at the results we had on the track in the cycling European championships [where Britain topped the medal table], our BMX riders have been nailing it all around the world.
“You think about how well we did in the World Athletics Championships, and just the thought of all these different athletes in all these different sports hopefully being successful just makes it the most exciting possible year ahead.”