Britain is now a sporting superpower after Rio Olympics success, says UK Sport
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 21/08/16 5:39pm
Team GB's athletes have made "sporting history" at Rio 2016 but their bosses believe Tokyo 2020 could be even better.
The team arrived in Brazil with the target of winning 48 medals to make Rio 2016 Britain's best ever "away" Games but will end up with 67 medals, two more than London's remarkable haul, and set to be second in the medal table ahead of China with a handful of events remaining on Sunday.
"We're making sporting history - 67 medals, nearly 130 medallists, across 19 sports," said UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl.
"Even the sporting superpowers haven't done that in the past, but we are one of those now."
British Olympic Association chief executive Bill Sweeney agreed with Nicholl and praised the teamwork and "20 years of investment" that have combined to produce "this outstanding performance".
"Since National Lottery funding started in 1997, we have had five consecutive [summer] Olympic Games of medal growth, no other country has come close to that," said Sweeney.
It is an often repeated statistic that Team GB finished 36th in the medal table, with just one gold, at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
One sport both Nicholl and Sweeney would love to add to the Rio team in Tokyo is football, and they said talks were already under way with the Home Nations about bringing them on board under the Team GB banner.
The BOA fielded men's and women's teams at London 2012 for the first time since 1960 but plans to repeat that in Rio never materialised as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales remain worried about the potential threat to their independence in international football.
"We could win more medals in Tokyo," said Nicholl. "GB women's football, for example. I have no doubt that they would have won a medal here."
Sweeney was also upbeat about Team GB's prospects in Tokyo but said the competition will be even harder in 2020.
"Tokyo is going to be tougher, we'll have a much stronger domestic team than we saw here and for political reasons I think China will want to make a strong statement in Japan," said Sweeney.
"The Australians won't take this lying down either, they'll want to come back, and you will have a full Russian delegation there."
But having spent twice what the BOA had ever spent on its preparations for these Games, Sweeney has says the same amount would be invested in Tokyo.
"We do it to make Britain an active, proud and happy nation, and that is why the government adds to the pot with exchequer funding," he said.
"We do want to increase the impact of each medal, though, in terms of inspiration, and that is why our funded athletes have contributed 17,000 volunteer days since London and we will build on that."