So the curtain has come down on Tokyo 2020 and although this was the ‘extended version’ after an unforeseen year’s delay, it flew by and we didn’t want it to end, unlike The Return of the King. The king did return for Team GB however, as Jason Kenny won his ninth Olympic medal in the velodrome, while wife Laura also took home a gold, but how will the British team shape up in Paris?
It is now just three years away and on the face of things, it looks promising for Team GB.
This summer, the sprinters couldn’t quite get the job done on the track for a number of reasons. False starts and injuries spoiled the party for the men in the individual events but the real disappointment came with our two female superstars.
Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson Thompson both succumbed to injury issues that had plagued them in the build-up and our two strongest gold medal hopes on the track both came away with nothing in the individual events. That should be a big change between now and 2024 and unless anything goes drastically wrong, they should be medal contenders once again.
One huge positive despite the individual disappointment was the success of the relay teams. The men’s 4x100m team came within 0.01secs of winning gold while the women, featuring Asher-Smith, won an impressive bronze medal. The work that the staff have put into those changes look to be paying off even if we don’t boast the fastest individual sprinters, while the middle distance runners also won medals.
One big disappointment for the British team this summer was the rowing events. In a sport where Team GB have so often dominated, our entire team won just one silver and one bronze. For the level of investment UK Sport have put into rowing (£24m), more was expected, although their whole plan has been to target Paris 2024 so perhaps this Games can be seen more as a learning curve.
If rowing was a disappointment, what the British swimmers achieved in the pool was sensational. Adam Peaty is the best in the world at breaststroke and won individual and relay gold, while a total of eight medals, four of them gold, made it GB's greatest ever Olympic performance in the pool.
This level of success should continue in the pool as more talented swimmers follow in the footsteps of their new heroes, but the funding is changing slightly ahead of Paris 2024. Whereas before, huge amounts of money were pumped into only the sports that we had a chance to medal in, now more sports than ever (43) will be funded.
This does mean that successful sports such as athletics, gymnastics, rowing and swimming have all had budgets cut by about 10% but it does mean sports such as badminton, BMX and wheelchair rugby are all going to be funded properly.
Although Team GB may not see domination in the same way we did at London 2012 or Rio in certain events, this does seem a fairer way to distribute money. Also, this gives Team GB the chance to thrive in more sports across the board, including some of the new sports being introduced to the Olympics.
Sky Brown at just 13-years-old will have inspired a whole new generation of skateboarders, as will Beth Schriever in the BMX, and now those that have been inspired by their achievements will have the funding in place to achieve their potential.
We may have only just waved goodbye to Tokyo 2020, but there is a whole lot to be excited about. The only good thing about the pandemic is that Paris is now only three years away!