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Jubilant British team eye London Games in 2012

Posted: Monday August 30, 2004 9:54PM; Updated: Monday August 30, 2004 9:54PM
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LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) -- A jubilant British Olympic team landed at Gatwick airport on Monday with high hopes for a successful London bid for the 2012 Games after exceeding their sporting objectives in Athens.

British athletes won 30 medals at the Athens Games, their highest tally since Los Angeles in 1984, and team chief Simon Clegg described their achievements as: "Mission accomplished."

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"It was a great, great British performance and it was a huge privilege for me to lead the team," Clegg told a news conference at Gatwick, where hundreds of supporters had gathered to welcome the team.

"This is the second most successful team GB at an Olympic Games since Paris in 1924, only exceeded in gold medals by the tally in Sydney four years ago and only exceeded in the total medal tally by the boycotted (Los Angeles) Games of 1984.

"I am very confident that, over the last three weeks, we have considerably enhanced London's chances of securing the 2012 Games."

Clegg added the pre-Games target had been to return with between six and nine gold medals and in excess of 25 medals.

"We have exceeded our objectives, and the medal table speaks for itself," he said.

"Tenth in the overall medal table, nine gold medals, 30 medals in total. And 30 medals across 13 sports. I think that's a fantastic achievement for British sport.

DEPTH, WIDTH

"It shows the depth and width of sport that we have within the Olympic movement here in the UK."

British rower Matthew Pinsent, who won his fourth consecutive Olympic gold in the men's coxless fours in Athens, said all his fellow medallists wanted to see the Olympics hosted by London in 2012.

"Imagine the reaction that we would get," he said. "You've seen the reaction from Sydney four years ago and, by all reports, this has been even bigger, certainly it was in the terminal.

"Imagine what it would be like for the athletes and a sporting success story in this country if the Games were actually at home."

Pinsent, who broke down and sobbed uncontrollably on the podium in Athens after a tough year marred by injury and criticism, said he was delighted to be part of a British sporting success story at the 2004 Olympics.

"Especially in a year when other British sports have been so criticised," he added.

"It's the proudest moment of any of our lives to pull on the vest or track suit with the Union Jack and the Olympic rings on it and that feeling is only topped by standing on the podium.

"I for one, will be smiling for a very long time after this Olympics in Athens in 2004.

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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