Paul Dancey on 13/08/2012
Sunday's spectacular closing ceremony, which was watched by around 26 Million TV viewers in the UK, finally brought down the curtain on what has been one of the most successful Olympic games ever for UK athletes. The 2012 London games saw TeamGB finish third in the medals table with a record breaking haul of 65 medals, made up of twenty-nine Gold, seventeen Silver and nineteen Bronze medals.
Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, said: "It’s an outstanding achievement to finish third in the medal table at London 2012 and the athletes and the sports have provided so many truly inspiring moments for the nation to treasure."
Chair of UK Sport, Sue Campbell, said: "For a nation the size of Great Britain to finish in third place at the Olympic games is incredible and without doubt one of the greatest sporting achievements in this country’s history."
"We now have an elite sport system that is the envy of the world and I firmly believe it will continue to deliver at the highest level for many years to come thanks to the support of National Lottery and Government funding which I am delighted to say is now secured for the Rio cycle."
With a 7-strong medal haul, London 2012 was also the most successful Games for over 100 years for Welsh members of the GB team.
Chair of Sport Wales, Laura McAllister, said: "We're delighted that we've come out of London 2012 having exceeded the unprecedented success achieved at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. We've been clear about our need to be unashamedly ambitious in our quest for success and, together with governing bodies of sport, have set a target of between six and 10 medals across both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games. With the seven medals already won by Welsh athletes, we are well on track to achieving that target."
- There was a second Olympic gold for Cardiff's Geraint Thomas in the men's team pursuit final at the London velodrome.
- Gold for Wrexham's Tom James in the men's rowing four final on 'golden Saturday'.
- Flint's Jade Jones became the youngest Welsh gold medallist after beating Yuzhuo Hou of China in the women's 57kg taekwondo.
- Wrexham's Chris Bartley won a silver medal, along with fellow crew members Peter Chambers, Rob Williams, Richard Chambers, in in the lightweight fours rowing final.
- Cardiff welterweight Freddie Evans also took silver, the first Welsh boxing medal for 40 years.
- Hannah Mills, from Dinas Powys, and Saskia Clark won a sailing silver in the women's 470 class.
- Merthyr's Sarah Thomas, the sole Welsh representative in the hockey squad, scored Great Britain's third goal and helped secure bronze against New Zealand.
"But Wales have accomplished more than just a higher medal tally at these Games," McAllister added, "London 2012 was an Olympic Games that put the future of Welsh sport in the spotlight. Not only are we achieving in the here and now, with medals from some of our most experienced and respected athletes, such as Geraint Thomas and Tom James, but it gave us a glimpse of what's to come.
"Just look at the statistics. Eighteen of the thirty Welsh athletes made their Olympic début, and twelve were under the age of 23. One of our teenage competitors, Jade Jones, claimed a gold medal, and another, swimmer Ieuan Lloyd competed in two Olympic finals, both at just 19 years of age. Those talented young stars are just two examples of Wales' bright sporting future.
"Essentially, these Games have shown that there is a plethora of young talent emerging, and waiting in the wings, that can and will be nurtured to ensure that we continue to see Welsh athletes standing proud on podiums at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and beyond."
"For us and many of Wales' athletes, the focus will now be the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games," continues McAllister. "We're sure to see a repeat of the outstanding performances witnessed from, not only the young Welsh stars who made their names at the London Olympics, but also from those who narrowly missed out on selection for these Games.
"We've witnessed the advantage a home crowd can provide, you'd be hard pushed to find an athlete's interview that didn't credit the support from the British public during the Games, and we're in a strong position in that we can also benefit from that support at the next Commonwealth Games."
But of course the London 2012 summer of sport is not over yet. In just over 15 days time London hosts what many are predicting will be the most popular Paralympics in history. And with a strong history of success in disability sport, many believe there is a good chance that we will see another record breaking haul of medals.
On Friday 14th September there will be an official "welcome home" for Welsh athletes returning from the Games, and an opportunity for the Welsh public to show their support for our sporting heroes who have performed so well in London this year. Our September Newsletter will also feature Welsh performances at this year's Olympic and Paralympic games written by our man at the Games, Gary Baker.
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