Clegg delighted as Britain's medal haul beats Sydney

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The Independent Online

Simon Clegg, Great Britain's chef de mission at these Games, declared himself a "proud and contented man" yesterday after Team GB's total medal tally in Athens hit an 80-year high for a non-boycotted Olympics.

Simon Clegg, Great Britain's chef de mission at these Games, declared himself a "proud and contented man" yesterday after Team GB's total medal tally in Athens hit an 80-year high for a non-boycotted Olympics.

Clegg, the chief executive of the British Olympic Association and a prime mover in London's bid to stage the 2012 Games, did sound a word of warning to some sports, however. He said there would be a "thorough examination" of every British performance over the past 16 days, with underperforming sports asked for explanations.

British competitors won 30 medals here, nine of them gold, nine silver and 12 bronze. Since the 1924 Games in Paris, the only Games when Britain has won more medals was in Los Angeles in 1984. Britain won 39 medals at those Games, which 14 nations missed after a Soviet boycott. Only five of those medals were gold, and 22 bronze.

Britain's Athens gold tally is the second best since 1924, with only the 2000 Games in Sydney beating it. Britain won 11 golds in Australia, and 28 medals in total.

"Three weeks ago I told you that the predicted sorry summer of British sport was about to end, despite some headlines that [Team GB] was about to implode," Clegg said yesterday.

"I stand before you today a very proud and contented man. We carry the sporting aspirations of the nation. It's a heavy burden but also a privilege." The BOA's pre-Games medals target, which was set and publicised three months ago, was to return from Greece with between six and nine golds, and more than 25 medals altogether.

"I am delighted that we have done that," Clegg said, adding that the sense of "mission accomplished" would be balanced by a thorough examination of all British performances. "We are judged by medals and we will take a full and thorough analysis of every performance to determine if we have set the bar at the right level with a view to moving the sport forwards in the future," he said.

There is "no doubt" that some British sports have underperformed here, according to Clegg, who would not be drawn on too many details until the BOA's official report into the Games makes its conclusions.

It is clear, though, that aside from the unexpected triumphs of Kelly Holmes, the men's 4x100m relay team and to a lesser extent the bronze medal-winning heptathlete Kelly Sotherton, athletics was one underperforming sport.

"It has been a fairly mixed performance by the track and field team," Clegg said. "We will sit down with UK Athletics and do a thorough analysis of this. But, on the surface of it, there are far too many athletes who are not getting through the first rounds, and that is something we are going to have to address in the future."

Clegg added that he would "look very closely" with every governing body into how to proceed in their sports. "[But] I think what you are seeing is proof that investment in British sport is working and getting results," he added.

With little more than 10 months to go until the voting on which country will stage the 2012 Games, Clegg said he felt British performances here cannot have failed to make a good impression on the International Olympic Committee, whose members will decide the destination of the Games.

The number of British supporters in the venues here, not least at the rowing, swimming, cycling, sailing modern pentathlon, boxing and the main stadium, will also have been noted as evidence of a country that appreciates its sport.

Precious Medals

British Olympic Hauls

1896 Athens 2 3 3 8 5th
1900 Paris 12 9 7 28 3rd
1904 St Louis 1 1 0 2 7th
1908 London 56 51 39 146 1st
1912 Stockholm 10 15 16 41 3rd
1920 Antwerp 14 15 13 42 4th
1924 Paris 9 13 12 34 4th
1928 Amsterdam 3 10 7 20 11th
1932 Los Angeles 4 7 5 16 8th
1936 Berlin 4 7 3 14 10th
1948 London 3 14 6 23 12th
1952 Helsinki 1 2 8 11 18th
1956 Melbourne 6 7 11 24 8th
1960 Rome 2 6 12 20 12th
1964 Tokyo 4 12 2 18 10th
1968 Mexico City 5 5 3 13 10th
1972 Munich 4 5 9 18 12th
1976 Montreal 3 5 5 13 13th
1980 Moscow 5 7 9 21 9th
1984 Los Angeles 5 10 22 37 11th
1988 Seoul 5 10 9 24 12th
1992 Barcelona 5 3 12 20 13th
1996 Atlanta 1 8 6 15 36th
2000 Sydney 11 10 7 28 10th
2004 Athens 9 9 12 30 10th