Rio Deliv­ers a Games to Remem­ber, at Least for Team gb

By in Ian Stafford

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.