Olympic heroes have put Great into Britain

Ashington FC chairman Ian Lavery.
Ashington FC chairman Ian Lavery.

We have just witnessed that amazing spectacle that comes around every four years when the top sports people from around the world gather to contest the Olympic Games.

Four years ago Britain was gripped by Olympic fever when we staged the Games in London and going into Rio the feeling seemed to be that it would never quite match 2012. But how wrong that has turned out to be.

Amazingly, our sportsmen and women return from Brazil with more medals than Team GB has secured at any previous modern games – a total of 67, with 27 gold.

What seems beyond doubt is the part National Lottery funding has played in transforming Team GB from an also-ran 20 years ago with a lone gold medal into coming second in the Games’ table behind the USA, but ahead of China and Russia.

That is a fantastic achievement and what we need to do now as a country is to make sure our young people are inspired to follow in the footsteps of our Olympic heroes.

Funding still needs to go into sport at the highest level, but it also needs to find its way into our local clubs run by so many dedicated volunteers, not just to help them find the stars of tomorrow, but to encourage people of all ages to be more active and follow healthier lifestyles.

At a time when perhaps we need our spirits lifted as a country, Team GB has also shown the rest of the world that the word ‘Great’ truly belongs in front of that second word ‘Britain’.