The Rundown

What is left for British sport to conquer?

The Rundown

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First men's Wimbledon title in 77 years? Check. First Lions Tour victory in 16 years? Check. Yellow jersey still in British hands after Bradley Wiggins's Tour de France victory last year? Check.

Andy Murray's victory at SW19 took care of another sporting itch that has bugged British sports fans for years.

After the success at London 2012 it seems like British sportsmen and women can do no wrong at the moment.

But what other sporting monkeys does Britain need to get off its back, and what are our chances of claiming those elusive major wins?

EVENTS BRITAIN HASN'T WON IN A LONG, LONG TIME

FOOTBALL

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Moore and Hurst

Men's World Cup (last win in 1966)

The last (and only) British men's team to win the World Cup was England in 1966, as if we needed reminding. Before that, Wales and Northern Ireland both made the quarter-finals in 1958, with the Northern Irish reaching the 'second group stage' (also the last eight) in 1982. Scotland have never got out of the group stage. Post '66, England have made the quarters four times, five if you include '82. That appears to be our level, with the football cultures of Brazil, Argentina and new kings Spain boasting superior technique, while Germany and Italy have smarter tactics and organisation (and probably technique too). It's not all doom and gloom — tagged serial chokers, Spain won their first World Cup just three years ago, and have sandwiched that with back-to-back Euros triumphs. Our women, meanwhile, won the 1985 and 1988 World Cups, before FIFA got involved and continued their anti-English conspiracy (only kidding). Hurrah for girls!

What are Britain's chances of breaking the hoodoo?

Not great, but not beyond us. It all rests on England though as small talent pools and weak domestic leagues have rendered the other Home Nations also-rans at qualification. The Three Lions flopped at the last World Cup, with much of their failure attributed to extreme pressure placed on players by fans and media. However, there is a clear technical deficit due to a kick-and-rush culture, highlighted when lowered expectations helped England at the last Euros, only to be outplayed by Italy in the quarters. Terrible performances at this summer U21 European Championships and U20 World Cups do not bode well and until this long-term problem in development is solved, a win is unlikely, although the FA has started rectifying the issue with a new technical program and the building of the St. George's Park campus.

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TENNIS

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The Davis Cup trophy

The Davis Cup trophy

Davis Cup (last win in 1936)

There are no two ways about it — Andy Murray is a freak. No other British male can hold a candle to the Scot, who is comfortably the best player from these isles in the post-war era. It is fitting that the last Grand Slam singles win by a British man before him came in 1936: Fred Perry's boys also won our ninth and last team event that year. Since then our best finish was second in 1978, with the United States and Australia picking up most post-war titles and Spain leading the way in recent years.

Chances that Murray leads us to glory?

Slim in the long-term but things are moving in the right direction under captain Leon Smith and Britain will take on Croatia in a World Group play-off in September. Murray has been absent from the team in recent years but has expressed a desire to return. However, the Davis Cup is a team game and Murray cannot carry a nation whose other top players lie outside the top 100. Murray is the exception, not the rule, with Britain incapable of creating more than one decent pro per generation in recent decades — Greg Rusedski was born and trained in Canada. Spain have three of the last five titles but recent success for Serbia and the Czech Republic have shown teams with smaller talent pools can triumph.

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Rugby League

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World Cup (last win 1972)

Given so few nations play rugby league to a good level, it seems almost inexcusable that Britain has not won a World Cup in this sport in over 40 years. However, there is a reason for this — it is effectively the national sport in Australia, who have won six of the subsequent seven trophies, while rugby union's entry to the professional ranks signalled a haemorrhaging of British talent to the more popular code of the oval ball.

British chances?

Despite Australian dominance and New Zealand's emergence after winning in 2008, Britain does have a chance in the future, but it will likely involve some cricket-style ANZAC-poaching. A sturdy professional system and continued popularity in the north of England mean a strong league culture still exists, while many southern hemisphere players mimic their compatriots in other fields by plying their trade in the UK. We are still some way behind the Aussies and Kiwis, while the decision to break GB into its component nations will inevitably reduce the talent pool. As such, England will be in the hunt to reach the latter stages of future World Cups, with victory only a win or two away from the current squad, and we have home advantage when the next edition of the tournament takes place later this year.

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MOTOGP

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Riders' championship (1977); Grand Prix race (1981)

Barry Sheene was handsome, outspoken and fashionable — and he was also the last British rider to win a Moto GP championship or race. It has been a dark age for Britain in the top level of motorcycling since dominant eras before the 80s, and Sheene's retirement in 1984 signalled the start of an alarming slump. We still produce talented riders, but they specialise in road racing and often struggle to switch from the World or British Superbikes series. That is in part down to culture — Brits prefer the bigger road-worthy bikes and rarely follow the usual route into MotoGP, which is taken by teenagers, through the smaller machines of Moto2 and 3, which partly explains Italy's success. Why? We don't really ride scooters for starters, and we just love our Superbikes.

Can a Briton win a MotoGP race?

Yes. While many Superbike stars have failed to master the smaller bikes, Cal Crutchlow has shown great promise after switching categories two seasons ago. He is currently fourth in the riders' standings this season after one second place and two third-place finishes, while he also had two podiums last season. The waning of Valentino Rossi's talents have made for a more open championship, while 2011 champion Casey Stoner has retired. Spanish trio Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez rule the roost at the moment but Crutchlow's not a million miles behind.

And the championship?

Not this year. A much tougher proposition for Crutchlow than a race win, but provided he gets a good machine he could be in with a chance in future seasons.

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BADMINTON

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Men's All-England Open Championship (1939)

The annual English Open badminton event was dominated by English and Irish men until it was halted for the Second World War. Since play resumed in 1947 Britain has not even had a finalist. It has been dominated by South East Asian athletes, mostly Chinese, Indonesian and Malaysian, with Danes and Indians putting in decent showings. That has reflected the nature of the men's sport — the male doubles boasts a similar drought and similar Asian dominance — although Britain has had women's singles and doubles champions up to 1981. The mixed doubles (2005) saw our most recent badminton success thanks to the famous duo of Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson.

Can Britain break the Chinese spell?

Almost certainly not — badminton is following table tennis in becoming an Asian-dominated sport, with clubs and participation at record highs in Chinese territories. Small-scale racquet sports are national pastimes, much like golf on the British Isles, and it shows no sign of changing.

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EVENTS BRITAIN HASN'T WON — EVER

CRICKET

One Day International tournaments

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India's Ishant Sharma yells at England's Ravi Bopara (L) after he dismissed him during the ICC Champions Trophy final cricket match at Edgbaston

India's Ishant Sharma yells at England's Ravi Bopara (L) after he dismissed him during the ICC Champions Trophy …

Probably the most surprising British drought, considering England have won numerous Ashes series and are ranked number two in the ODI format after coming up just short again when losing to India on home soil in the recent Champions Trophy.

Why have we not won an ODI World Cup or Champions Trophy? Well, Australia are historically just better at one-day cricket than anyone else, while the Asian subcontinent sides also enjoy smashing it about, not to mention toying with English batsmen on their funny wickets. England have traditionally focused on Test cricket, although the emergence of the spectator-friendly (and cash-rich) T20 format of the game has changed that somewhat — England won that World Cup event two years ago, and converted that form to the one-day game. Best finishes have been runners-up in 1979, 1987 and 1992 in the World Cup and 2004 and 2013 in the Champions Trophy.

Can our boys bring home the bacon?

The talent certainly exists but there is a touch of randomness about the one-day format, and England do not appear to take it as seriously as the Test or the highly marketable T20 versions, but if they get their house in order they have as good a chance as any for the 2015 World Cup and the 2019 edition, which will be hosted by England and Wales (who have a combined cricket board). Scotland have no chance, alas.

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SAILING

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America's Cup

Britain is an island nation with a history of fantastic sailors, most recently shown at the last Olympics and of course the all-time great Ben Ainslie. The America's Cup, however, is more about money than match racing. This may seem like a controversial statement, but — unlike sailing in its purest form — it is a yachting event, with huge multi-million dollar boats and multinational teams that often feature playboy financiers and the odd celeb alongside hardened sportsmen and women. Qualification is also difficult — the defending champions race against a sole challenger, which in recent years has been decided by some gruelling qualifying races. There have been British sailors aboard winning boats, and a few unsuccessful British challenger projects, but this event has been dominated by Americans since they won the opening edition in the 19th century, with Swiss, Australian, Kiwi and Italian-financed boats also faring well.

Can Britain convert Olympic dominance to this event?

Not in the foreeseeable future. The Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series has just started in San Francisco as three teams look to win the right to challenge the current holders Oracle of the USA in the 34th edition of the America's Cup. However, a British team is not among them with Team New Zealand, Artemis (Sweden) and Luna Rossa (Italy) the three potential challengers. A British team called Team Origin had been set up by Sir Keith Mills with the aim of competing in the 33rd and 34th America's Cups but that idea was scrapped in 2010. Ainslie has now taken up the gauntlet and built a team he hopes can compete in the 35th edition but he will race with Oracle in the current America's Cup.

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FOOTBALL (AGAIN)

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Spanish players celebrate after winning the Euro 2012 football championships final

Spanish players celebrate after winning the Euro 2012 football championships final

European Championships

No British men's side has ever won the Euros. Given it is widely-regarded as a tougher competition than the World Cup due to the lack of weaker teams from Oceania, Asia, North America and Africa, it's not hard to see why. England have flown the flag for Britain for the most part — Scotland have only qualified twice, going out in the group stages both times, while Wales and Northern Ireland have never made the finals. England's Euros record is similar to their World Cup record as, while they have never won it, they have reached the semi-finals twice, coming third in 1968 and 1996. This championship has been dominated by Germany and, more recently, Spain, while France, Italy, the Czechs and the former Soviet Union have put in good showings. As with the World Cup, the women have fared better, beaten finalists in 2009.

What are our chances?

Not as improbable as people would like to think: even though the standard of teams is higher than a World Cup, history suggests it is possible to cause an upset. The tournament has seen some shock victors in the past, most notably wildcards Denmark in 1992. A jobbing team with a solid defence and a few stars in good form can go on a magical run and, with some luck in the penalty shoot-outs, anything is possible. England are hampered by their failure to deal with pressure, congenital weakness at spot-kicks, and a general lack of skill, but Greece were far weaker and they did alright in 2004! The current Spain team shows no sign of weakening, as the academies of Barcelona and Real Madrid feed ready-made internationals into the senior set-up, but they are beatable, as even England have shown. Also, there are no Brazil or Argentina to worry about.

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HOCKEY

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The English women's team that finished third at the 2010 World Cup in Argentina

World Cup (men and women)

Much like football, the modern form of field hockey was developed in England yet Britain underachieve on a global scale. However, similar games have existed in other countries for millennia and — despite a hockey culture in certain schools and regions of the country — we have never been a consistent major force in the world game, partly because we compete as the four individual Home Nations. Our best finishes have been by England's men and women, who have come second and third respectively in 1986 and 2010. Those relative successes were amplified by United GB teams at the subsequent Olympics, with Britain's men winning a shock gold at Seoul in 1988 and the women doing well to claim bronze in London. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are weak sides on their own, while England are currently semi-final contenders at best.

Can England improve and win a World Cup?

Yes, and sooner than any of the above sports. It could happen with a few tweaks and some luck, as there are no real stand-out sides. Britain's women — mostly the England team — were desperately unlucky not to make the Olympic final, and have shown repeatedly that they can mix it with the world's best, which includes the Dutch, Germans, Australians and Spain in both genders, plus China and Argentina for the women. The men are a shade weaker but have recently developed a gung-ho attacking style which is spectacular when it succeeds and equally so when it fails — they lost 9-2 to the Dutch in their Olympic semi. There are different, adjustable problems for England and Britain: the men need to work on their defending, while the women have a psychological bogey team in nemeses Argentina. Watch out for the girls in 2014.

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