British Olympic Association chairman Sir Hugh Robertson declared it mission accomplished after Team GB were welcomed home from their most successful Winter Olympics.
Britain’s athletes landed at Heathrow Airport yesterday afternoon following a record-breaking trip to South Korea.
Their five medals in Pyeongchang – gold for Lizzy Yarnold and bronzes for Laura Deas, Dom Parsons, Izzy Atkin and Billy Morgan – was one more than they had previously managed since the inaugural Games back in 1924.
Speaking alongside Yarnold, BOA CEO Bill Sweeney and chef de mission Mike Hay, Robertson said: “We had some pretty serious ambitions before these Games. We were confident the team we were sending out was the best prepared team that have left these shores for a Winter Games.
“And I think as a nation we always saw this as part of a continuum where we had performed extraordinarily well in three successive summer Olympics, in Beijing, in London and then in Rio. And actually winter sport was one of the great improving stories in this country so we were very ambitious about what we were trying to do.
“The results of that, I am delighted to say, 16 days later thanks to the efforts of Lizzy [Yarnold] and others is that we have come home after our most successful ever Winter Games and that is a fantastic result.”
Britain enjoyed their best day at a Winter Olympics on 17 February when Yarnold retained her bob skeleton title ahead of third-placed Deas, after Atkin had earlier claimed the country’s first medal in a skiing event with a ski slopestyle bronze.
Parsons kicked off the medal haul by taking bronze in the skeleton on the previous day, before snowboarder – and closing ceremony flagbearer – Billy Morgan ensured a new entry in the record books by claiming an unexpected third place in the big air on the penultimate day of action.
There were disappointments too, though. Both the men’s and women’s curling teams went in with high hopes of a medal but returned empty handed, while world champion speedskater Elise Christie – who arrived home yesterday wearing a protective boot as she continues her recovery from ankle damage – certainly had an Olympics to forget.
Looking ahead to the Beijing Games in four years’ time, Robertson believes Britain has a bright future in winter sports. “It reminded me being out in Pyeongchang that the margins between success and failure at this level are absolutely tiny,” he added.
“And I think the lesson of this is to not only celebrate everything that’s been achieved but to look at the huge number of fourth places and people who just missed out by a fraction of a second and work out where this could take British Olympic sport in Beijing in 2022.
“I think the pipeline is strong and the potential for future success is extremely good.”
Team GB celebrated their successes with drinks and karaoke before boarding an early flight back to the UK.
Yarnold, who flew back last week, reunited with her team-mates at the airport and expressed regret at missing Sunday’s closing ceremony.
“I’m a terrible singer so I think everyone else benefited from me not being there,” the 29-year-old said of the celebrations. “I would have absolutely loved to celebrate the closing ceremony with everyone.
“It’s the moment when you walk in with all the other nations and you just embrace each other in the moment of great performance. I can’t wait to hear the stories.”