AFTER slipping skaters, slow skeleton sliders, crashing skiers and sideway bobsleighs, Team GB finally had something to cheer at these crazy Covid-effected Beijing Winter Olympics.
Had it not been for the efforts over the weekend of the superb Scottish curlers – one gold and one silver – then the Brits would have had their WORST Olympics in the professional, post-National Lottery era.
The closing ceremony presented the Olympic rings surrounded by a display of lightsCredit: Getty
Team GB enjoy the festivities despite being a ‘wounded lion’Credit: Getty
Fireworks explode over the Beijing National StadiumCredit: Getty
IOC President Thomas Bach addresses the stadiumCredit: Getty
Yet funding-body UK Sport have no plans to slam shut their war-chest following this China trip and intend to INCREASE spending on winter sports.
More than £22million has been invested over the past four-year cycle but the pre-Games target of between three and seven medals was not met.
Inquests into the many failures seen on snow, skis and skeleton tea-trays will begin before the Milan-Cortina 2026 funding decision is made this summer.
UK Sport boss Sally Munday said: “We feel disappointed. We recognise, though, that no one will be more disappointed than the athletes themselves.
“Emotions will still be raw for many of the athletes and their support staff and so now isn’t the time for us to make knee-jerk reactions or decisions.
“It’s important to say that the last two weeks haven’t altered our ambition to become an ever greater force in winter sport.
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“It’s fair to say these Games have been a setback in Great Britain’s Olympic success story.
“We’ve taken some blows. Probably, you could liken us to a wounded lion.
“We will go away, we will lick our wounds, but please be assured we will come back and roar stronger for Milan-Cortina.
“Strategically we have made a really clear statement that we are committed to winter sports.
“Exactly what those figures look like will be determined this summer but I certainly don’t expect us to be decreasing our investment.”
Perhaps only China, with its infinite resources and legion of Hazmat Harrys, could host a Covid Olympics in a barbed-wire ‘closed-loop system’.
As smoke clears from the extravagant firework show over the Beijing National Stadium, SunSport looks back on the Winter Olympics.
Organisationally the Games have worked, even though it has been a soulless, joyless ocasion at times.
Having sticks stuffed down your throat every day – and that’s without mentioning the intrusion of the dreaded airport nose examination – was a shocking reminder of the strange times we live in.
The Beijing crowd were treated to an entertaining showCredit: Getty
‘ONE WORLD’ lights up the skyCredit: Reuters
The Brits, notwithstanding the brave curlers, had a shocker and the big names bombed.
Skier Gus Kenworthy and snowboarder Charlotte Bankes, recruited from the US and France, did not live up to the hype.
Figure skater Natasha McKay fell over during her routine and snowboarder Katie Ormerod did not qualify for her finals.
The two-man bobsleigh tipped over and pilot Brad Hall and Nick Gleeson crossed the finish line with their heads on the ice.
The biggest flop was the skeleton – the highest position out of four sliders was 15th – and they have refused to reveal why the technology screwed up.
Two of the three speed skaters ended up on their a***s when they fell in competition
There were untimely injuries and medical issues that ruled out James Woods, Izzy Atkin and Kathryn Thomson.
Cross-country skier James Clugnet had a ski broken by a rival by mistake.
It was not all doom and gloom as 17-year-old Aberdeen freestyle skier Kirsty Muir performed admirably well especially against the might of Chinese star Eileen Gu.
Ice dancers Lewis Gibson and Lilah Fear were 10th and have much promise for the future.
Makayla Gerken Schofield finished a superb eighth place in the women’s moguls.
Cornelius Kersten, who runs a coffee business to supplement training, was ninth in the men’s 1,000m long track.
And the men’s four-man bob, who get no funding whatsoever, were sixth on the final day.
The BOA, particularly their medical department and chef de mission Georgina Harland, deserve credit for keeping the squad safe and sound.
Across two successive Olympics – Tokyo and Beijing – not one Brit tested positive for Covid and missed their official start time. A record that should be applauded.
But on reflection, the curlers aside, these will be a Games to forget for the Brits and roll on Paris 2024.
Of course, all disappointments are relative. Spare a thought for Finland skier Remi Lindholm, who had the worst time of all, suffering a FROZEN PENIS in the subzero temperatures.
The Beijing National Stadium was alight for the closing ceremonyCredit: EPA
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