Team GB chef de mission Mark England has hailed the country’s 65-medal haul at Tokyo 2020 as “the greatest achievement in British Olympic history”.
On the final day of competition on Sunday, cyclist Jason Kenny became the first Briton to win seven Olympic gold medals when he successfully defended the keirin title he won at Rio 2016.
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Welsh boxer Lauren Price then claimed the women’s middleweight boxing title to secure a 22nd gold of the Games and ensure that Great Britain equalled their medal tally from London 2012, to finish fourth on the medal table behind the USA, China and hosts Japan.
Team GB had finished second on the medal table in Rio, where they won 27 gold medals in a total of 67.
However, given the hardships involved in getting a competitive squad to the delayed Games amid a global pandemic, England believes Tokyo ranks above anything that has previously been achieved.
“Against all odds, it is, I think, the greatest achievement in British Olympic history,” he said. “It has been the miracle of Tokyo.”
According to England, Team GB faced a number of challenges behind the scenes in Tokyo.
Included in those were four false positive Covid tests, one of which was in a team sport and would have required the entire squad to isolate.
“For this team to deliver 65 medals is absolutely extraordinary,” England added.
"The team has made history on the back of the most complex, challenging and most difficult environments that we will ever face, certainly in my lifetime. And I can say that because I’ve been involved in five or six summer Games.”
England’s sentiments were echoed by UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger, who said a number of British athletes had “truly burned their name into Olympic history”.
Grainger, who competed at five Olympic Games and won gold in the women's double sculls at London 2012, believes Team GB's achievements will have helped to inspire future generations of potential medal winners.
"I really think they have just set new standards in so many different ways, and they have truly burned their name into Olympic history in ways that we didn’t expect,” she said.
"We had Jason Kenny, our most decorated Olympian. Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Kenny as our most decorated female Olympians as well.
"We’ve had our most successful swimming team ever. We’ve had our most successful boxing team in a century. We have just had these incredible moments. But beyond that, we’ve got a lot of firsts."
Grainger added: "We’ve had our first medals in skateboarding, BMX and female weightlifting. We have had a lot of debutantes in these Games and there’s always a question of ‘can you deliver in your first games?’ and they have.
"And we’ve also had seasoned campaigners, such as Laura Muir and Tom Daley, who have finally made their dreams come true for themselves.”
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