Tag Archives: medalists

Exclusive: As UK Sport"s record 355m investment in British athletes begins, Sportsmail speaks to those who have already seen gold from the…

EXCLUSIVE: As UK Sport's record 355m investment in British athletes begins, Sportsmail speaks to those who have already seen gold from the funding boost

, in which Great Britain won 65 Olympic medals and 120 at the Paralympics and finished third in the medals table in both events, but British sport has aimed high since National Lottery funding was introduced in 1997. It is hard to believe Britain won just one gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Joy: The Olympic Parade which celebrated all the British success during the Olympics and Paralympics

Joy: The Olympic Parade which celebrated all the British success during the Olympics and Paralympics

Glory boys: Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent were the only GB gold medalists in Atlanta

Glory boys: Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent were the only GB gold medalists in Atlanta

Here, some of the athletes who have benefited from UK Sport funding tell Sportsmail exactly what it has meant to them…

Sir Ben Ainslie, 36
Four-time Olympic gold medallist, sailing

‘Trying to become the first nation to better our performance after a home Olympics is a fantastic goal. For me, it shows just how far British sport has come.

‘I’m not thinking about Rio right now because I’m in San Francisco with my America’s Cup team but you never know – it’s still a few years away.

History: Ben Ainslie won a record fourth sailing gold medal after a titanic battle in London

History: Ben Ainslie won a record fourth sailing gold medal after a titanic battle in London

'I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made in my career so far and I’ll definitely be in Brazil in some capacity, even if I’m not racing.

Sir: Ainslee was knighted for his heroics

Sir: Ainslee was knighted for his heroics

‘I started receiving funding in 1997. I went to my first Olympics in 1996 and won a silver medal, but we didn’t do very well as a team. We won just one gold medal – in rowing, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent in the men’s coxless pair. It was a pretty poor performance overall.

‘Then UK Sport funding came in and I think, straight away, you could see a big change in the way we were able to train. We enjoyed a big jump up the medal table in Sydney (from 36th to 10th) and that continued all the way to London.

‘British sport became more
professional, but the rest of the world upped their game as well. When I
started travelling to compete internationally most people were sleeping
in tents or in the back of their cars and trying to hold down jobs as
well as training.

'There
were very few full-time athletes. I think that’ s been the biggest
change: we have always had the passion but we simply didn’t have the
time to train and recover properly.

‘I
was lucky because I was still studying, but I relied on my parents an
awful lot. I’m sure they were very relieved when funding came on, as a
lot of parents must have been.

‘The
medical support has been unbelievable. I had a back injury six months
before London and it really was a difficult time. I had to have surgery
and a lot of physio but the support I received was phenomenal. It made a
huge difference to me and my chances of winning that gold medal.

‘Could I have achieved what I did without funding It’s a difficult one. I was fortunate in that I had success early on and was able to attract commercial sponsors, but I couldn’t have done it without the coaching and medical support there in the background.

'It was about setting up a long-term strategy to win medals and they certainly got the right people and the right strategy to do that.’

Perri Shakes-Drayton, 24. Double European indoor champion, athletics

‘It meant a lot to win two gold medals at the European Indoor Championships (in the 400m and 4 x 400m relay) in Gothenburg. You train to win medals and to be a champion was even better.

'The training that I’ve done and any doubts I may have had have gone away. I can do it and I want more. It gave me that confidence that I am as good as the rest of the girls and I want to maintain it.

Champion: Perri Shakes-Drayton won gold in the Women's 400m at the European Indoor Athletics

Champion: Perri Shakes-Drayton won gold in the Women's 400m at the European Indoor Athletics

‘It meant a lot after the Olympics. I finished on a high and I kept running close to my personal best but it was a disappointment (failing to make the final of the 400m hurdles). But rewards will come. The European titles have put the Games behind me. It’s a good feeling.

‘The 400 metres isn’t my event and hopefully I can transfer that speeds to the hurdles now. I enjoy them – there is a lot more to think about, but I haven’t achieved what I want to do yet over the hurdles.

'I’m not saying “bye” to them yet. Hurdling comes naturally now. I see a hurdle and I know how to attack it.

‘I want to come home with a medal from the World Championships in Moscow in August. I want one and I have to win one. That’s my aim.

Pedigree: The British quarter cruised to victory in the Women 4 x 400m relay

Pedigree: The British quarter cruised to victory in the Women 4 x 400m relay

‘Chris Zah has been my only coach, for the past 11 years. He took me from the grass roots to the world-class athlete I am today. It’s not really common for that to happen, but we’ve grown as a team and learnt together.

‘We’ll stay in Mile End, not move to Loughborough. We’ll stay in that gritty, crusty gym in east London because it’s working for us. It’s a good set up and I’ m not going anywhere for the moment.

‘National Lottery funding just makes life so much easier for me. The money I receive in support helps with training camps – I’m going to Daytona in Florida for a month on April 2.

I don’t take it for granted because it makes life so much more stress-free. All I have to do is worry about getting to training on time and being the athlete that I have to be to achieve my goals.’

Becky James, 21. Double world champion, track cycling.

‘I couldn’t have made my career without Lottery funding, I’ve had it since I was 15 and it’s been a huge support for me. Without it, I couldn’t make a career out of cycling because women get paid differently to men if, say, I was on a road team.

'It gives you such a lift when you first get on the programme and you become part of British Cycling, too. It’s been a great help.

‘I’m sure I wouldn’t be a double World Champion if I had a part-time job. I worked until I left home – I used to work in a kitchen doing all the food prep and washing up, which wasn’t the most glamorous job. Then I did a bit of waitressing and then I worked in a cake shop for two years in Abergavenny – serving coffee and cakes. It probably wasn’t the most productive thing to do for my sport, but it was fun.’

Double: Becky James won two gold medals at the World Cycling Championships in Scotland

Double: Becky James won two gold medals at the World Cycling Championships in Scotland

Funding: UK Sport have been a key part of James' immediate success

Funding: UK Sport have been a key part of James' immediate success

Quillan Isidore, 16, joined UK Sport’s World Class Performance Programme as a Development athlete in November 2012 after winning the Boys Under-16 category at the UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham last May.

Winner: James with her gold medal in the individual sprint

Winner: James with her gold medal in the individual sprint

‘I always looked up to people in the GB team and wished I could be one of them. It was a dream when I made it onto the Olympic development programme for BMX because there are only five of us: four boys and one girl. It’s really good when we all go away for training – that’s what I want to live my life like but I’m still at school so I have to be patient. But I’m proud to represent the British team and follow in the steps of people like Sir Chris Hoy.

‘I still live at home in south London so I get a set programme to follow from my coach. I’m very dedicated – I never miss training at all. We’re not the richest family so I’m really thankful for the support.

‘You can get pretty bad injuries in
this sport so it’s good to know the back-up is there, too. I’ve been
very lucky so far, but it’s impossible to be injury-free.

'I’m
aiming for the 2020 Olympics but I’ve got 2016 in the back of my mind. I
believe that if I work really hard it can be done. We’re all working
really hard to get up the rankings and try to get GB three spots in Rio.

‘I
do think BMX is becoming more of a recognised sport. I got into it
because my friend just took me to a track in Brixton one day when I was
eight. It only had about five jumps but I just loved the feeling of
getting my front wheel off the ground. I got my first bike for my eighth
birthday and have been hooked ever since.’

UK
Sport, funded by The National Lottery, is supporting Britain’s best
athletes on the #RoadtoRio. Follow their progress @uk_sport

England still suffering Olympic Games hangover – Wembley match zone

Wembley match zone: England fail to capture imagination amid Olympic hangover

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UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 11 September 2012

They may be officially over but it’s hard to escape the Olympics and Paralympics in London. Tube trains carry the maps directing people to the different venues, for example, while many buildings are still adorned by flags of competing nations. At Wembley the England football team seemingly failed to capture the public’s imagination as the stadium was far from full at kick-off. Time to give us a reason to believe again, Mr Hodgson.

Applause: Olympic medalists were paraded at half-time

Applause: Olympic medalists were paraded at half-time

Blokhin still bitter

Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin spent most of Euro 2012 picking fights with people, from journalists to football administrators and politicians. And it seems he still hasn’t forgotten the injustices he felt befell his side — who had a goal not given when the ball had crossed the line — during their defeat by England in Donetsk over the summer, when a Wayne Rooney goal separated the teams. ‘The referee made two mistakes,’ insisted the 59-year-old. ‘Of course he hurt us. But that’s history.’

Northern stars

The national team have rarely been as enthusiastically supported as they were when they travelled the country playing at different venues while Wembley was being rebuilt in the middle of the last decade. Many supporters would still like to see the odd game played ‘up north’ and this suggestion was perhaps given more credence by the fact that eight of the starting 11 play their football in either Manchester or Liverpool.

Wise head: Frank Lampard takes the captain's armband

Wise head: Frank Lampard takes the captain's armband

Team player Lamps

He may not be captain but Frank Lampard is a man who understands the team ethic. Seeing Tom Cleverley screw a chance wide in the first half — the second time the Manchester United man should have scored — Lampard ran 30 yards to give him a tap on the shoulder. Two minutes later, with his confidence restored, Cleverley hit the post with a brilliant shot.

Lescott loses out

Roy Hodgson has said he won’t be afraid to pick players who aren’t playing regularly for their clubs and one wonders if he will soon add Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott to that list. The 30-year-old had a superb season last time round but City manager Roberto Mancini has bought Serb Matija Nastasic as a long-term replacement because he is unsure about Lescott’s ability on the ball. On Tuesday, Lescott gave possession away cheaply in the build-up to the first goal.

Error: Joleon Lescott made a mistake for Ukraine's goal

Error: Joleon Lescott made a mistake for Ukraine's goal

Defoe's fast start

Coaches may be critical of a perceived lack of effort when the opposition have the ball but one of the enduringly impressive aspects of Jermain Defoe’s football is his ability to find his rhythm quickly and work goalkeepers from a variety of angles. In some ways it makes the Tottenham striker a perfect substitute but Defoe was into the game quickly, whipping a super right-foot shot past Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Piatov in the 11th minute, only to be pulled back for a foul.

London 2012 Olympics: Badminton: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei take gold

Sublime Chinese duo take gold in badminton mixed doubles in wake of fixing scandal which saw compatriots disqualified

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 3 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

China made badminton headlines for the right reasons as Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei produced a world-class performance to claim Olympic gold at Wembley Arena.

The top seeds were far too strong for their compatriots and second seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin as they powered to what could prove the first of five golds in the sport for the Asian powerhouse.

Their 21-11 21-17 victory showed the best of Chinese badminton two days after one of their mixed doubles pairs was expelled from the London 2012 competition in a match-fixing row.

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

It was a result which rarely seemed in doubt as the world champions Zhang and Zhao got off to a superb start, racing into a 12-5 lead.

Zhao, despite apparent trouble from a knee injury, rarely relinquished control at the net while Zhang set up plenty of winners.

Their opponents could not impose themselves and were frequently forced into errors.

Zhang and Zhao led 8-0 in the second game and only had a brief wobble two points from victory as Xu and Ma won four in succession.

Zhao played down the significance of their victory in light of this week's scandal.
She said: 'Everybody is doing their best to achieve their best performances.

'I have been training very hard in preparation for this gold medal and this is just the start of our careers.'

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The bronze medal was won earlier in the day by Danish pair Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen, who beat Indonesia's Tonowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.

Fourth seeds Fischer and Pedersen earned some consolation after their semi-final defeat to Zhang and Zhao by outplaying third seeds Ahmad and Natsir to win 21-12 21-12.

Fischer, who smashed a racket after losing out on a place in the gold medal match, celebrated exuberantly and gave away his racket and shirt.

The result meant that for the first time in Olympic history Indonesia had failed to pick up a badminton medal. At all Games since the sport was introduced in 1992, the country had won at least one gold.

Ahmad said: “There has been too much pressure on from home and from the media.

'I failed to cope with the expectation and under-performed.'

The men's singles final on Sunday will be a repeat of the Beijing showpiece of four years ago between all-time greats and arch-rivals Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan.

Defending champion Lin had little trouble seeing off South Korea's Lee Hyun-il.

The world number two won 11 of the first 12 points of the match and 12 of the last 14 as he powered past the ineffective seventh seed to win 21-12 21-10.

Malaysia's top seed Lee was made to work much harder by third seed Chen Long and looked more impressive for it as he won 21-13 21-14.

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

Despite his superb display, Lee, who came into the tournament with doubts over his fitness after an ankle injury, said: 'I didn't expect to win because my preparation has only been 50 per cent.

'I said to myself, “I have nothing to lose,” but when I saw it was 11-4 in the first game I realised I had to win this match and that's why I played more confidently.'

Lee and Lin produced a stunning spectacle when they met in the final of the World Championships at the same venue last year.

Lin survived match point to win and will again be favourite despite Lee's long-established status at the top of the world rankings.

The Malaysian, a perennial runner-up to Lin, will also carry the pressure of bidding to win his country's first Olympic gold in any sport.

The first women's semi-final proved a disappointing spectacle as top seed Wang Yihan made easy work of India's fourth seed Saina Newhal, winning 21-13 21-13 in 42 minutes.

Wang was joined in the final by fellow Chinese Li Xuerui, who beat another compatriot in Wang Xin.

Third seed Li, a late selection by China for the tournament, continued her impressive progress with a 22-20 21-18 success over the second seed.

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place

Team GB rowers win 12 medals at World Cup

We're oarsome! GB rowers secure 12 medals at World Cup

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UPDATED:

21:33 GMT, 6 May 2012

It may be too early to herald a gold rush at London 2012, but Great Britain’s rowers flew back from the season’s opening World Cup with almost enough medals to cause an excess baggage surcharge.

In routing nearest opposition Germany to claim the overall team title, they took four golds, six silvers and two bronze from 12 finals contested, apparently confirming that they have the greatest depth of any squad who will be at the Olympics.

The three boats already earmarked by most observers as favourites for this summer all won in heat which caused several British athletes severe, if temporary, physical distress at the end of their races. There was also the promise of other contenders emerging in the next three months.

Top girls: Gold medalists Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger

Top girls: Gold medalists Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger

The scenario could be different by the time we get to London — and not just because there will be no nudist colony 500 metres down from the start line at Eton Dorney, as was the case at this beautiful public lake adjoining the Danube.

Australia and New Zealand were absent yesterday, but what happened was still a reminder that GB’s rowers could rival the cyclists, in whose slipstream they have travelled so far this year, when it comes to podium finishes.

‘Cycling came up with the goods in Beijing so that’s fair enough,’ said performance director David Tanner.

‘I hope we get the recognition but I don’t want more pressure on us than is needed. London is where we have to deliver and it will be very public.

‘I’m very pleased to get medals in 12 events here (out of 14 Olympic classes) and we can move on with confidence.’

Well done: Gold medalists Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter of Great Britain (centre)

Well done: Gold medalists Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter of Great Britain (centre)

He was especially pleased with the
silvers gleaned by the youthful men’s pair of George Nash and Will
Satch, and the double of Bill Lucas and Sam Townsend. Moreover, a
British men’s eight forced to reshuffle in the absence of stroke
Constantine Louloudis gave the all-conquering German boat a scare before
being overhauled to lose by barely three seconds.

The deliberate change of strategy to go all out from the start at one point threatened to cause an upset. ‘I would have thought the Germans will have taken notice of that,’ said cox Phelan Hill, only confirmed in the position last week after his rival Rowley Douglas formally challenged his selection.

‘They are used to having it their own way but we were just ahead at 1,000 metres and gave them something to think about. I don’t think anyone has done that to them since Beijing.

‘We had some changes and maybe lacked a bit of cohesion but I am sure there is more speed to come from this boat.’

Emerging from the long months of winter training, GB’s top three boats won with varying degrees of ease. The defending Olympic champions of the men’s four – reconstituted with Andy Triggs-Hodge at stroke – won easily.

The unbeaten women’s double of Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, probably GB’s strongest hope of all, withstood a late German charge but were never seriously in danger.

Fours: Silver medalists Peter Chambers, Rob Williams, Richard Chambers and Chris Bartley of Great Britain (centre)

Fours: Silver medalists Peter Chambers, Rob Williams, Richard Chambers and Chris Bartley of Great Britain (centre)

Beijing gold medallists Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter were pushed hardest in the lightweight double scull. The latter was among those whose legs buckled when they hit dry land.

The women’s pair of army captain Heather Stanning and PE teacher Helen Glover completed the roster of winners, showing that they will be very competitive when main rivals New Zealand join the fray.

Even with the limited absentees, which also included certain Americans and Canadians, Britain’s overall margin of victory in the team competition was a crushing one, beating full-strength Germany by 79 points to 47 – and 14 medals to seven – with Holland a distant third.

There are two more World Cups ahead of the Olympics, at Lucerne and Munich. They are staging posts along what looks like a very exciting road.