London 2012 Olympics: Wave of jubilation grows as GB medal haul hits record
TEAM GB’s Olympic dream continued yesterday, with a haul of gold medals surpassing the nation’s total from Beijing four years ago and making the event Britain’s best Games for more than 100 years.
Sir Chris Hoy’s triumph in the keirin topped off another glorious day for the team which saw them take four gold medals, bringing Britain’s total to 22, an achievement only previously bettered in the London Olympics of 1908.
Earlier in the velodrome, the new star of British women’s cycling Laura Trott, 20, won the omnium – her second medal of the Games – while in the dressage event, the British team trotted to a historic victory over Germany.
Team dressage has been dominated by Germany in every Games since 1984 – but the magic of London 2012 meant this was yet another bastion to fall to an apparently unstoppable Team GB.
Carl Hester expressed the delight of his team in making history, and said their win was in part down to a can-do attitude.
He said: “It’s a combination of so many years of dreaming about it and it finally happening. Those girls are cool customers and Charlotte [Dujardin] is unbelievable, for the amount of time she’s been riding.
“The horse is also unbelievable, you can see he’s the best horse in the world.
“We’ve finally won it and I said to Charlotte on the way here, I have a little saying for her: Some people wish it will happen, some people think it will happen and you are going to make it happen.”
He added: “That’s the sort of thing I can say to her. It would frighten a lot of people but she just takes it goes in there and rips through her test like a professional of 20 years would.”
The equestrian victory followed on from a triumph in the triathlon, as the Brownlee brothers raced to Olympic glory in one of the most dramatic races yet at London 2012.
Alistair Brownlee took gold and his brother Jonny won bronze, despite being given a 15-second penalty. Alistair admitted his primary emotion was relief, saying: “I was very tired, you just want to finish and have a sit down. You don’t really have too much time to enjoy it.
“I’d run really hard, probably as hard as I’ve ever run, to win that race. I was very proud and happy, but my overwhelming feeling was just to get across the line and get it over and done with.”
The pair are the first British siblings to win medals in an individual sport at the same Games since Reggie and Laurie Doherty also won gold and bronze in tennis in 1900.
There was further medal success when Nick Dempsey took silver in the men’s windsurfing, while Victoria Pendleton won silver in the cycling sprint final after being disqualified in the first heat.
Their success brings Team GB’s tally to 22 gold, 13 silver and 12 bronze.
Prime Minister David Cameron last night hailed Team GB’s record tally, saying they had delivered a “golden summer” for the whole country.
“This has really turned into a golden summer for Team GB and for the whole of the UK,” he said. “Our athletes, both individually and as a team, can be incredibly proud of what they have achieved.
“The whole country can be very proud of putting on such an incredible set of Games and such a great show for the whole world.”
The Prime Minister said his personal highlight had been watching British athletes win three gold medals on Saturday night in the Olympic Stadium, saying it was “a moment I am never going to forget”.
“That is going to leave people with some very, very happy memories of things they have seen and done together,” he said.
“We have shown the world the best face of Britain.”
Mr Cameron paid tribute to former prime minister Sir John Major for setting up the National Lottery, which had been a key source of funding for British sport.
“The Lottery has been a great boost to British sport and we must make sure that it on and is the case for the future.”
London mayor Boris Johnson said: “Our athletes’ efforts to bring home the bling have delivered a tally not seen by any British team in over three generations. But it’s not over yet. I join the nation in its hope that Team GB is set to deliver more sporting brilliance to come.”
At least four more medals are assured in boxing, where losing semi-finalists get bronze.
British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt, the chef de mission of Team GB, celebrated a “remarkable milestone”.
He said: “What has been achieved today is the result of a shared commitment made by 541 athletes, representing 26 sports, to compete as one Team GB, and to do so in a manner that would make our country proud,” he said.
“It is the result of years of sacrifice and struggle, underpinned by the selfless contributions of coaches, team mates, parents, volunteers, administrators and the British public.”
The scenes of jubilation are a very different story from only 16 years ago.
At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Britain walked away with just one solitary gold in rowing for Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave, and took 15 medals in total. In Barcelona in 1992, the team managed five golds.
There were celebrations of individual successes then, but nothing like the wave of jubilation sweeping the country now as one victory follows another in front of flag-waving crowds roaring their athletes on.
The British Olympic Association is planning a parade on open-topped buses through London on 10 September, after the Paralympics end.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east