The government has claimed Team GB’s success at the Rio Olympics can be used as a “template” for making Brexit a success.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said the country would harness the spirit of the team’s “world beaters” and use the same approach to back “excellence” – though provided little detail as to how it would work in practice.
It comes as the team became one of the most successful in British history after finishing second in the league, ahead of China, for the first time in more than a century.
Team GB exceeded its medal haul from the London 2012 Games and the UK was dubbed the world’s new “sporting superpower”.
Mr Clark said: “By making the most of our strengths, improving our facilities, developing the skills of athletes and coaches alike, we have become a world-beating sporting nation.
“We have a real opportunity to apply many of the same insights as we bring together a long-term strategy for our industrial and commercial future.
“Recognising our strengths — from science to the creative industries — and making sure they are nurtured and encouraged.”
The turnaround in British sport since Team GB won just one gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games has been put down to a decision by John Major’s government to divert National Lottery funding into sport to help athletes train full time.
He told The Sunday Times the new government under Theresa May would “create an environment in which excellence can thrive” and vowed that those in competition with the world’s best” would get “world class” training to help them become the “talent of tomorrow”.
But some critics were quick to suggest Mr Clark’s words offered little guidance to how the country will go forward with Brexit, as almost every aspect of the UK’s exit is still up in the air.
Twitter users poured scorn on the comments, saying they appeared to be just empty words:
Meanwhile Leave.EU have been reprimanded for attempting to link Team GB’s success to Brexit.
The campaign tried to claimed that the success of the athletes proved the UK was “small but mighty” and would go from strength to strength outside the EU.
But the British Olympics Association has warned the unofficial Leave campaign to stop featuring their athletes in their tweets as all photos of them are their intellectual property and that of their official media partners.
Several commentators pointed out that the success of the current crop of British athletes was achieved by years of training and hard work - some of which was achieved in EU countries or with funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
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