Winter Olympics 2014: We can do even better at the next Games, says Team GB chief Mike Hay

After Britain's best showing for 90 years, focus turns to Pyeongchang 2018

Sochi

However quickly John Jackson manages to steer Britain's bobsleigh around the tight curves of the Sanki Sliding Centre this morning, the Winter Olympics will come to an end tonight with a satisfied glow surrounding the British team.

Jackson and his three team-mates are the last of the 56 British athletes to compete at the Sochi Games, going in their final two runs, and represent one final chance to claim a record-breaking fifth medal.

They will set off in seventh place looking to make up the 0.18sec deficit to the bronze medal. If – and in bobsleigh they deal in hundredths of seconds – they could make that up it would provide a very shiny cherry on top of a Games that for Britain is already the most successful for 90 years, since the days when curlers played in plus-fours, woollen stockings and a stout pair of brogues and Ethel Muckelt, a Moss Side factory worker, danced to an ice skating bronze.

Lizzy Yarnold, hand picked and moulded into the best female skeleton athlete in the world by a well-funded and carefully planned programme, will carry the Union Jack into the closing ceremony in the Fisht Stadium tonight. It is in a very different sporting world that the heirs to 1924 have matched their predecessors. Given the broader competition in 2014, this in reality is Britain's best Winter Games.

"Every single cycle we seem to being getting better and better," said Yarnold, back in Russia after a flying visit home to join Jenny Jones on The Jonathan Ross Show. "We have surpassed our expectations. We are just so proud as team."

Record funding, close to £13.4 million, accompanied the winter version of Team GB to Sochi and, apart from figure skating (and with bobsleigh to come), they have ticked every box asked of them by UK Sport, an organisation that likes boxes ticked in return for lottery funding.

"I don't want to say this is a new dawn or anything, but we are certainly heading in the right direction in terms of athletes competing for medals," said Mike Hay, Britain's understated chef de mission. "We are sitting around 19th in the medal table – we are above Italy – but I am not sure that constitutes calling us a winter sport nation.

"But it is a good platform to move on from. It is about being credible and being able to prove to UK Sport we are worth investing in. We have decent programmes, good coaches. We are making a difference here. Invest in us and we'll show you what we can do in Pyeongchang. I hope that is the result – that we get a bit more investment."

That is the likely outcome. This is a young British team – the inclusion of the new snow events such as slopestyle have given a real boost to Britain's winter hopes. The "Fridge Kids" may have collected only one medal here – and that from the 33‑year-old Jones – but there is enough genuine potential for 2018 to attract investment. It was Alex Coomber's bronze medal in Salt Lake City a dozen years ago that earned British Skeleton significant funding and led to what Yarnold did here.

Hay and those within Britain's winter sports would like to see a team that competes across more sports dispatched to Pyeongchang four years down the line. There is a desire to set-up a regular training camp in Lake Placid for the freestyle skiers and snowboarders, while Simon Timson, UK Sport's director of performance, met with the Dutch coaches behind the speed skating team who won 23 medals here.

"This is just a start," said Hay. "You always go into Games with medal hopes: we went to Vancouver with a couple of world champions that failed to make the podium, so you need quality across a number of sports to realise medals. I am pleased but I am not losing focus on four medals – it's not 24."

Sebastian Coe, in his first Olympics as chairman of the British Olympic Association and attending his first Winter Games, echoed Hay's words. "This is a really good start down the path but it is only a start," said Coe. "There is more to come."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf