Grateful Denise Lewis admits Team GB's storied Olympic success since the turn of the century would not have been possible without the 'transformative' impact of National Lottery support.
Lewis soared to heptathlon glory at Sydney 2000 in what marked the start of a glorious epoch for British athletes at the Olympic Games.
Lewis, 48, bridged both the pre and post-National Lottery funding eras and witnessed first-hand its impact after Jason Queally claimed Team GB's first gold - also in Sydney - since it was introduced.
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A thrilling haul of nearly 100 have followed and now, 24 years on from The National Lottery's revolutionary intervention, Team GB descend on Tokyo 2020 on the cusp of their 100th Gold medal since the funding came in.
Lewis was the only British female medallist at Atlanta 1996 - where she won bronze - and knows the revitalising impact of The National Lottery's support was critical in propelling the nation to those bulging medal tallies in Beijing, London and Rio.
She said: "I was at the beginning of that [National Lottery] funding - and life before was very different to how it looks now.
"I think it has really transformed British Olympian and Paralympic teams in terms of their performance.
"Since the progression of National Lottery funding, we've moved up the medal table. It really has given British sports a lot of golden moments and we have to thank National Lottery players for their integral contribution.
"We look for medals across many of our Olympic sports now - not just the targeted few. That groundswell is important because that's the real test of development - we want all sports to be able to feature on those medal tables.
"I think that has been significant because of National Lottery funding and the ability for athletes to mobilise themselves, get better coaches, get better access to facilities, information and support. That's what you ultimately need."
The National Lottery support has sparked a triumphant new era for British athletes and thanks to National Lottery players, they have helped transform the fortunes of Team GB over the past two decades.
Team GB won 11 golds at Sydney 2000 and nine in Athens four years later but have embarked on an inexorable upwards trajectory thanks to The National Lottery's assistance.
The support has revitalised the nation's medal hopes and after unforgettable hauls of 19 golds in Beijing, 29 in London and then 27 in Rio - bolstered by four in the Winter Olympics - Team GB are on the cusp of bringing up a century in Japan this summer.
Lewis' Australian triumph helped kick-start the journey and after the unforgettable Games of London 2012, Lewis knows also The National Lottery have helped inspire a generation.
She added: "I was inspired by watching the Olympics as an eight-year-old. That was the moment that I became real for me.
"I still wish we could bottle that energy and have that rolled and rippled across the nation. It's about our youth wanting to be part of that inspiration and realising there's a platform to watch so many different sports that they may not have seen before.
From Aberdeen to Abergavenny, from Portrush to Portsmouth, Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes are uniting and inspiring people from across the UK like never before.
"The groundswell of participation that took place was magnificent and we just need to continue that."
Tokyo 2020 represents a Games like no other but Lewis, who has been following the action closely, hopes Team GB securing that 100th gold can catapult the nation towards a similar era of glory.
"We've enjoyed success at the highest level and we've shown how infectious that is through the nation," added Lewis, who knows National Lottery funding not only supports our elite athletes but is also vital for community sport all across the UK.
"I just hope this Tokyo Olympics, despite all the challenges the athletes have faced, will kickstart good habits.
"I just think we should want to enjoy the fruits, keep pushing on and keep inspiring."
No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including elite and grassroots sport. Discover more about how playing The National Lottery supports Team GB's athletes by visiting www.national-lottery.co.uk/tokyo2020 and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen
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