Team GB must continue to build on success of last two Olympic Games, sayd Bill Tancred
- Credit: PA
Team GB must build on the success of their most fruitful medal haul since 1908, according to legendary Suffolk Olympian, Bill Tancred.
Two-time Olympian Tancred has watched with relish over the past fortnight as Team GB excelled in a plethora of sports, winning 67 medals, including 27 golds.
That overall total bettered the number of medals accrued at London 2012, albeit by just two, but is a world away from winning just a single gold at Atlanta 1996.
Significantly, the final Games of the 20th century were the last before National Lottery funding was introduced for Team GB athletes.
According to the BBC, the UK government were spending just £5m a year on Olympic sport, before the Atlanta Games, whereas prior to London 2012, it was spending £264m.
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“I hope the investment continues and the correct amount of funding is given to our sports,” said Tancred, who represented Great Britain as an amateur in the discus, at the Olympics in Mexico in 1968 and West Germany four years later.
“The National Lottery and UK Sport have to be applauded for their impact on sport and on Team GB.
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“We got our preparation right and identified which sportsmen and women would get into their respective finals.
“Everything has been planned meticulously to ensure they peaked and hit top form at the right time.
“To win 67 medals is remarkable and it was brilliant that we were able to stick by our athletes through a four-year process. The likes of Alistair Brownlee for example, who suffered his injury problems in the last couple of years, but was supported financially and mentally with the help of sports psychologists.”
When he competed, Tancred, who grew up in Felixstowe and Ipswich, would often be found training at the old Ipswich Airport in a cellar that “was good for nothing else than covering you in dust” and on spare land near Ransomes Sims Jeffries, in Ipswich.
“I was an amateur and never got paid for it. We would probably be reprimanded if we carried an endorsement or sponsorship on our kit,” Tancred, who wasn’t afforded such luxuries as sports scientists and psychologists, recalled.
“I used to practice by throwing (the discus) off Nacton Road and into the grass. We would draw a chalk circle on the concrete. I would also train in a dusty cellar at Ipswich Airport.”
There have been suggestions that too much money is now being spent on our Olympians, when it could be spent on other areas of British society, such as the NHS.
Other remarks post-Rio have centred around the fact that Team GB are becoming too good and that the money being spent is only invested in the sports that have a chance of winning medals.
“I would like to see more money put into sports where we weren’t really expected to win a medal in Rio as well, such as trampolining in which Bryony Page won a silver,” he insisted.
“I think the British attitude is to always build people up and then knock them back down,”
“After the fall-out of Brexit, people are talking about Team GB at the Olympics. It has been a morale-boost for the country.
“I understand people saying that there are other priorities in the country but we have been a showcase to the world.”
Team GB’s success has also come under scrutiny in rival countries with Australia, Germany and France questioning our success in cycling, in particular.
Their main bone of contention is that our cyclists only seem to rule the track at the Olympics.
“When I look at my field, Al Oerter never held the world record going into the Olympics but would always win it,” recalled Tancred.
“It shows the periodical work these guys go though throughout a four-year cycle. They are all prepared at that level and to perform on the day when it matters.”
He added: “The other countries will come back though and I hope we are not a victim of our success and we lose some of our coaches.
“Success breeds success and the other countries will want to have what we have got.”