Written by: Amos Murphy
As the curtain fell over what seemed two weeks ago to be an inevitable train-wreck failure of the 31st Olympiad and one to be seemingly swallowed up into the shadow cast by Brazil’s growing recession, controversy and turmoil, the games have been a roaring success and Team GB leave the sun kissed sands of Copacabana basking in the rays of a record breaking games.
It was unprecedented territory for the Great British & Northern Irish Olympic team: twenty-seven gold medals, twenty-three silver and seventeen bronze – the largest medal haul for a British team, ever.
With a target of forty-eight medals heading into the games, our heroic, indomitable and fearless athletes have soared high above, smashing expectations and defeated colossal sporting powers such as China and the Russian Federation to bring home a total of sixty-seven medals.
As patriotism oozed out of our televisions, into our homes and streets over the past seventeen days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a GB ‘gold rush’ will be a formality in the following Olympic Games and we have the power and momentum to potentially even push on further and possibly even reach the astronomical heights of Team USA for example.
For starters China will invest even more into their already rigorous and rigid Olympic scheme to ensure further embarrassments are foiled and the Russian Federation were competing with only two thirds of their team, amidst the ongoing state sponsored doping allegations and they will inevitably return to the top end. As always in sport the competition will become stronger and boundaries will need to be propelled further.
Replicating and then building on the last eight years of golden success will be harder than ever. Many of GB’s Olympians, who we’ve become accustomed to seeing at the top of the podium will reluctantly retire and leave a gapping hole in the medal machine. Subsequently this will lead to the pressure mounting on the shoulders of athletes taking their places and unfortunately at the highest level of the ruthless and barbaric world which is international sport, many buckle under such pressure and expectations.
Obviously, the predictable unpredictably of the games makes it the awe inspiring spectacle which we all become addicted to and engrossed in for a fortnight in August every four years and often we see athletes emerge from nowhere to strive for Olympic gold; this will never be stripped from the Olympics, however for it to be Team GB’s success, even more effort, dedication and determination is essential in the next four years to cement Great Britain’s status as an elite sporting nation.
The continued funding from the National Lottery into the UK Sport programme, coupled with the desire to win and triumph from our Olympians, will hopefully prevent the last eight years of Olympic success from turning into a sour anomaly and will dismiss a return to the mundane but modest performances we’ve seen at previous games.
British sport has never been in a healthier place and whilst the British empire is centuries gone, Team GB stand before a completely new and different dynasty and with every last kick in the pool, stroke of the pedal and momentous stride Team GB has the potential to conquer the sporting world; it just isn’t a given.