I have been overwhelmed by the performance of Team GB at the London 2012 Games.
Twelve years ago I watched the Sydney Games from my home in rural North Wales. This month I watched the London Games from rural New South Wales.
It has been fascinating to reflect on Olympic performance journeys from Sydney to London.
My sense in 2000 was that Australia had provided a model for the rest of the world in hosting an Olympic Games and for enhancing ethically athlete performance. I was conscious too that my colleagues in the United Kingdom were eager to learn about the Australian success story.
In 2000 the UK was building an elite sport system and exploring how to accelerate progress. I do think Australians made a significant contribution to these early developments. I was fortunate at the time to be one of Sport England’s World Class Experts and I sat in on a number of the reviews of Olympic performance in Sydney.
My move to Australia in 2002 gave me a close up look at the Australian system. I was in awe of the system that had been established, particularly in the institutes and academies of sport. I did wonder if a system that was so successful in Sydney could sustain the momentum created by a home Olympics.
I was acutely aware that a world system of sport expertise stimulated by Sydney was a ‘threat’ to continuing Australian Olympic success. Just as Australia had recruited world leading coaches, it was certain that other nations would do so too. The award of the Games to London in 2005 hastened this process.
In the last twelve years, Great Britain has moved from winning 28 medals (including 11 gold medals) in Sydney, to 31 medals (9 gold) in Athens, to 47 in Beijing (19 golds) and 65 medals (29 golds) in London.
Part of my overwhelming experience has been that Great Britain won more gold medals in London than the total medals won in Sydney.
In London, Great Britain won medals in 19 sports and gold medals in 13 of these. Great Britain won 8 cycling gold medals, 4 athletics and 4 rowing.
In London, Australia won medals in 13 sports and gold medals in 5 of them. The most successful gold medal winning sport was sailing (3 gold medals).
In the last 12 years a comparison of total medals won by Great Britain and Australia:
Gold medals in the same period:
It will be fascinating to see what happens in Rio in 2016. Just as in Sydney in 2000, Great Britain has set a standard in 2012.
This has been China’s pattern over three Olympic cycles: