Great Britain is “Sporting superpower” says Suffolk Olympian Bill Tancred

Bill Tancred

Bill Tancred - Credit: Archant

Great Britain is now a ‘sporting superpower’ at the highest level, according to Suffolk Olympian Bill Tancred.

Former discus thrower Tancred, who also competed in three Commonwealth Games during the 1960s and 1970s – winning a bronze and a silver medal – reflected on Team GB’s medal haul at the Rio Olympics, the nation’s best since 1908.

A stunning total of 27 golds, 23 silver and 17 bronze saw Team GB finish second in the overall medal table behind the USA, and ahead of some of the traditional Olympic behemoths such as China, Australia and Russia.

A total of 67 medals in total was two more than Team GB accrued at London 2012 and Tancred, who competed at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico and the 1972 event in Munich, said: “The question always was, could we beat the success of London and our medal haul shows what great sportsmen and women we have.

“To finish above China is remarkable. We are a superpower in sport at this level.”

He added: “We got our preparation right and identified which sportsmen and women would get into their respective finals.

“Everything has been planned meticulously to ensure our athletes peaked and hit top form at the right time.

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“We were behind the US in the medal table but had we been bigger than America, we would have been better than them.”

Tancred competed in the amateur era, without the luxuries afforded to the modern-day athlete, often practicing on spare land near agricultural company Ransomes Sims Jeffries, in Ipswich, and also at the town’s airport which has since been developed as the Ravenswood housing estate.

“I was never paid for what I did, and we would have been reprimanded for carrying any endorsements or sponsorship on our kit,” added the 74-year-old, who said the performances of Mo Farah and Max Whitlock would be two of his abiding memories from the Games.

“We missed out on sports science, we did not have any of that, people being able to work with athletes, sometimes for marginal gains, to ensure the athletes peak at the right time.

“I hope the investment in British sport continues as Team GB’s success has been a morale-boost for the country.”

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