Last weekend we witnessed the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics, which saw Great Britain finish second in the medals table. The 67 medals achieved by Team GB have delighted the nation and inspired a new generation of young people.
Great Britain has become the first nation in Olympic history to increase its medal haul over five consecutive summer games. Never before has an Olympic team improved its medal tally following a home games, which is even more remarkable given that this was achieved by a team of 366 athletes, compared to 541 who competed in London.
Back in Atlanta in 1996, Team GB managed a single gold medal and took medals in a total of six sports. This year Team GB have 27 gold medals and have seen podium positions in 19 sports. It is clear that our dominance in cycling, rowing and sailing continues but it is greatly encouraging to see gold medals coming from other sports such as gymnastics and diving.
There is no doubt we have a generation of exceptional athletes who train tirelessly. Dartford’s own Adam Gemili finishing in 4th place in his first ever Olympic Final is an incredible achievement, especially so given the slimmest of margins denied him the bronze medal. He and his fellow competitors should rightly be proud of their contribution to Rio 2016.
As we begin to look towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 I am reassured by the recent announcement from the Prime Minister that the Government remains committed to supporting elite sports. Team GB has received £350 m to support their training during this Olympic cycle. Whilst there are undoubtedly many competing demands on the new Chancellor, I hope the achievements of our athletes in Rio have demonstrated the rewards that investment in sport can bring.