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Elite sport - ‘The best high performance system in the world’

Team GB’s medal achievements during Rio 2016 demonstrates the superior training and preparation, says UK Sport

Published in Sports Management Sep 2016 issue 126
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
Mo Farah’s two gold medals contributed to the overall haul of 67 / Martin Rickett / PA Wire / Press Association
Mo Farah’s two gold medals contributed to the overall haul of 67/ Martin Rickett / PA Wire / Press Association

Team GB’s record-breaking exploits at the Rio 2016 Olympics demonstrates the nation’s place as “best high performance system in the world”, according to UK Sport.

Great Britain became the first country to surpass the number of medals it achieved at its home Games in a subsequent Olympics, with its Rio 2016 haul of 67 shading the 65 that athletes won during the London 2012 Games.

The team came second in the overall medals table with 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze, finishing second only to the USA and beating China.

Simon Timson, UK Sport’s director of performance, said there was “no doubt” that Britain had the best system in the world when it came to training and preparing athletes – backed by £274m (US$356.6m, €316.7m) of government and National Lottery funding.

“While this wouldn’t be possible without consistency of funding, I see on a day to day basis the exceptional work of the people behind our athletes, and they are truly world leading,” he added.

Medals were won across 19 sports – more than at London 2012 (17) – meaning that a number of sports matched or surpassed their medal targets. Cycling, gymnastics, swimming and diving beat their maximum target goals, while badminton won an unexpected bronze.

However, rowing – which counted on the largest grant over the 2013-17 cycle (£32.6m, US$42.4m, €37.7m) – failed to hit its minimum target of five medals.

UK Sport chair Rod Carr credited the government for its sustained investment. Speaking to the BBC following the Games, he said the elite sport funding quango would need to make some funding decisions going into the next cycle ahead of Tokyo 2020, based on its ‘no compromise’ system which focuses money on sports that have the best chance of medalling at Olympic Games.

A record number of female medallist (59) was also something for UK Sport to cheer, with chief executive Liz Nicholl saying that she hoped the feat would make “young girls feel empowered to make sport a fundamental part of their lives”.

“I congratulate everybody involved in this herculean effort – the athletes, coaches, physios, nutritionists and all at UK Sport and the British Olympic Association,” said sports minister Tracey Crouch.

“Rio 2016 has built on the legacy of London 2012, surpassing our achievements of four years ago.”

However, similar success in Tokyo in four years time may be challenging to achieve. While the government committed more money to UK Sport during last year’s autumn statement, new chancellor Philip Hammond may have different ideas to George Osborne. Timson has also suggested other nations are catching up with Britain’s performance system.

Read more: http://lei.sr?a=D5D8J

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