A massive dent in Brazil’s fragile economy, dirty water, stayaway stars, zika. This was the landscape portrayed just three weeks’ ago as another Olympics lurched towards the Opening Ceremony. Fast forward three weeks and as the final flame is extinguished we can look back at a Games far from perfect except for one crucial factor — Team GB smashed it.
No nation has ever improved four years after staging the Games and yet, with 67 medals in total, Britain beat it’s own incredible London mark by two. 27 gold medals was two less than in London, but 23 silvers was six more, stats that prove that in Britain’s case it wasn’t just the momentum of a home games that sparked such success, but a process that began the moment GB returned from Atlanta with just one gold medal. National Lottery money kicked in immediately afterwards and an instant return was achieved at the 2000 Sydney Games, from since there has been an upward curve.
What made Team GB’s Rio performance even more remarkable was that they won gold in 16 different sports, making us the most successful nation at the Games in terms of variation of sports. We have grown accustomed to winning gold in the velodrome, at the rowing lake, on the sea and, to an extent, on the track, but in gymnastics, diving, individual show jumping, women’s hockey, golf?
Incredibly Britain is now an Olympic super power, better than Russia (with their dope cheats in London, or without in Rio) and now China. Only the USA are better and, with their resources and numbers, they should always be.
The good news is this should continue in Toko in four years’ time. We may not see Mo Farah or Bradley Wiggins or some significant rowers again, but many of our golden stars will be back looking for more in the Japanese capital and, as the likes of Farah, Jade Jones, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott, Nicola Adams and Alistair Brownlee have proved, successfully defending an Olympic title appears to be well and truly on Team GB’s radar.
So here’s to Rio and to the quite staggering, collective performance from Team GB. They deserve all the plaudits and accolades they have and will continue to receive. A country has been inspired.