15 August 2016
Wow! What an amazing weekend.
Team GB are now second in the medals table sitting between America and China winning eight medals in one day! Finally we can celebrate some positivity and being British.
Five gold medals in one day, no wonder they’re calling it Super Sunday!
Taking the team tally to 38 medals, the whole weekend saw Mo Farah and Laura Trott make history with their third gold medals, fan-favourite Jessica Ennis-Hill bag a silver, the rowing team win a gold and silver, along with medals for swimming, golf and cycling.
Andy Murray claimed his second gold after an epic battle on court and we triumphed in gymnastics with Max Whitlock pipping teammate Louis Smith to the gold, having already taken gold on the floor.
It is astonishing to see the UK up there with the huge populations of America and China, especially when you look back 20 years and we were 36th in the medals table with 15 medals over the course of the whole games.
Many attribute this change in fortune to the increased lottery funding for sports, sparked by the embarrassment of Atlanta and John Major’s funding shift – as many commentators have noted throughout the coverage of this year’s games. This was backed with further commitments from Gordon Brown ahead of the 2012 Olympics. And, following our spectacular stint hosting the Games in 2012, Olympic and Paralympic Sport has seen a further £350m funding. Perhaps it is down to the funding.
But I think it is about more than money. There’s a confidence that we never had all those years ago. Medals are expected now. It is incredible.
Our standout athletes of the 1990s and early 00s – like Diane Modahl, Kriss Akabusi, Denise Lewis, Kelly Holmes and Linford Christie, to name a few – have sparked a generation who believe that they can do it. A generation who, backed by this increase in funding, have nothing stopping them but themselves.
Athletics and sport has become ‘cool’. Athletes are celebrities now – they’re even seen on the likes of Strictly Come Dancing! They’re role models and are in the public sphere, taking the limelight.
And, notably, now it’s not just about single athletes it’s about a whole team effort. It’s about the collective and there is a collective push for excellence.
Having so many athletes on the biggest stage in the world is extraordinarily important. Our children are watching these games, seeing that sport is exciting, that exercise is fun. What better way to get the younger generation moving than them being motivated by people from backgrounds just like them, from the same place as them even, winning bronze, silver and gold medals at the Olympic Games?
It is about time we had something to celebrate in Britain in 2016; it’s been a tough year so far. I am watching the Games with interest to see how we complete the tally. Here’s to beating 2012’s incredible 65 medals!