LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Britain’s Mo Farah won two gold medals in 5000m and 10,000m in the Games. EPA photo
Britain’s Olympic athletes were hailed as the nation’s “greatest ever team” yesterday after they seized the most medals in more than a century at the London Games.
But as the hosts ensured third place in the medals table, British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Colin Moynihan was quick to warn that the momentum created must turn into a lasting legacy.
“This team has excelled. There have been historic, unforgettable images with a team united and focused,” said Moynihan.
“We are very proud of the outstanding success. We wish we could bottle this power of confidence. This team has worked exceptionally hard and has been at a level never seen before. It’s our greatest ever team.”
Great Britain started the final day yesterday with 28 golds and a medal total of 62, behind the United States and China, but ahead of Russia
who had 21 golds in a total of 78.
The performances were a factor in British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision yesterday to guarantee funding for Olympic sports until the 2016 Games in Rio.
The country’s grim economic prospects had appeared set to see a reduction in financial support for sport ahead of the Rio Games, but yesterday it was agreed that 125 million pounds would be allocated annually for the next four years to maintain funding at the same level as the run-up to London.
“The motto of these Games has been ‘inspire a generation’. Nothing has been more inspirational than seeing our elite athletes win gold this summer,” said Cameron.
“There’s a direct link between elite success and participation in sport. I want one of the legacies of these Games to be our athletes triumphing in future Olympic Games. Guaranteeing this funding will help ensure that happens.”
Moynihan was adamant that the success of the team must now filter through to mass participation in sport throughout the country.
“We have to translate the performances into sports participation. We owe it to the team to guarantee a sports legacy.”
He added that the BOA will continue to court corporate sponsorship as sports such as golf and rugby sevens are not eligible for funding from the country’s national lottery.