Women are on course to outnumber men in the Great Britain team for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, according to chef de mission Mark England.
With 500 days to go to the opening ceremony of the 2020 Games, England said the team is now reaping the rewards of the “impact and inspiration” provided by a number of female trailblazers from London 2012.
Just over 48 per cent of the Great Britain team for London was female – as can be expected of a home nation Games due to automatic quota places – but that percentage dropped to 44 per cent for Rio.
England told Press Association Sport: “For the first time it looks like we might have more women than men in the Great Britain team for Tokyo as we see the fruition of some fabulous athletic talent.
“We have seen some fantastic role models in multiple Olympic champions like Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, Jade Jones and Nicola Adams.
“Everybody also looks up to Jessica Ennis-Hill and they have clearly all had a great impact in terms of inspiring a new class of young female athletes which is now emerging.”
The International Olympic Committee is striving for 50 per cent representation by women at the Olympic Games and the British Olympic Association’s bid to get there first may yet be reliant on confirmation of a GB women’s football team.
Football’s world governing body FIFA claimed in October it had received agreement from all four home unions to field a unified women’s team in Tokyo – but the terms are now reportedly being questioned by the Scottish Football Association.
Meanwhile England believes that Team GB will be well equipped for the “very different” challenges posed to them in Tokyo.
Its pre-Games preparation camps will be centred around three main venues in the Greater Tokyo area, at Keio University, the Todoroki Stadium and Yokohama International Pool.
“Greater Tokyo is an area of 35 million people and it is quite an unfamiliar environment,” added England. “The second aspect is that Tokyo 2020 will be made up of single venues, without an Olympic park.
“Whilst it doesn’t have some of the obvious challenges of Rio, once you start to dig deeper into the environment it means you have to be very light on your feet.
“We have tough shoes to fill from Rio. Typically, we don’t set medal targets but we are hugely confident that the investment by UK Sport and the work that has been undertaken by the home countries’ sports institutes and, in particular, by national governing bodies will make Team GB as successful as it was in Rio.”