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Athletes miss lofty German targets for Olympic medals

Responding to public pressure, the German Olympic Committee has revealed the goals it had discussed with the interior ministry prior to the London Olympics. As the games close, Germany has fallen short of the mark.

Finally caving to repeated requests from German media to publish the information, the German Interior Ministry on Friday released internal documents relating to the expectations of German athletes at the London Olympics that had been discussed with the German Olympic Sports Association (DOSB).

According to the documents, the interior ministry and the DOSB had a goal of 87 total medals, including 28 golds. Such a tally, if realized, would currently place Germany comfortably in third, well past the overperforming British hosts - and even ahead of China in the overall count. As of midday Friday, German athletes had won 10 gold and 42 overall medals in London.

German swimmers, cyclists, and track and field athletes had been tipped to bring home eight medals each. The swimmers will come home with just one, while the other two sets of competitiors have five each so far.

Britta Steffen, pictured above, won two swimming golds in Beijing but ended her London Olympics empty-handed.

Goals date back to Beijing

A court had ordered the documents to be released after a journalist filed a complaint when his requests to view the information were denied.

According to a statement from DOSB director general Michael Vesper, the goals had been set shortly after the Beijing Olympics four years ago.

"These goals had been discussed with the officials of each sport at the beginning of the Olympic cycle four years ago," he said on the DOSB's website. "These are not one-sided expectations, but coordinated estimates of the chances for London based on the anticipated sporting developments in each sporting association at that time. To interpret this as a concrete medal plan would be naïve and miss the point."

Germany won 41 medals in Beijing, including 16 gold - meaning the DOSB was seeking to double that total medal count in London.

The interior ministry and the DOSB denied that there was a connection between the medal expectations in a particular sport and the amount of public funding that sport received.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, whose portfolio includes sports, said that following the London Olympics there would be an analysis that would "draw the necessary conclusions for sports funding."

mz/msh (Reuters, dpa)