Tokyo 2020: The Queen hails 'skill and determination' of Team GB athletes

9 August 2021, 18:32 | Updated: 9 August 2021, 18:51

Team GB athletes touch down at Heathrow after the Tokyo 2020 games
Team GB athletes touch down at Heathrow after the Tokyo 2020 games. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Queen has hailed the “skill, determination and hard work” of Team GB athletes after they won 65 medals, including 22 golds at the Tokyo Olympics.

She sent the nation's Olympic competitors a message, saying: "I send my warmest congratulations to the competitors from Great Britain and Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, following their success at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in recent weeks.

"The skill, determination and hard work shown by the athletes and their support teams throughout the unique and challenging circumstances of the last year has been an inspiration to us all.

"I extend my very best wishes to everyone who has played a part in this extraordinary achievement."

Tokyo 2020: Jason Kenny and Lauren Price end Olympics in golden glory

Great Britain's Olympic heroes enjoyed a sensational Tokyo Games, winning 65 medals, including 22 golds, finishing fourth in the overall medals table behind the US, China and Japan.

The Team GB 65-medal haul in Japan matched the number earned during the Olympics in London in 2012, and is only two short of the record Rio total in 2016.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's twitter account also posted congratulations to the team, saying: "'ve all shown such strength, passion and determination in challenging circumstances and have done the nation incredibly proud!"

The official twitter account of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also paid tribute to Team GB.

The post on the heir to the throne and his wife's social media account said "You did brilliantly" and it also looked ahead to the Paralympics, wishing competitors the "best of luck".

Earlier today the British Olympic Association's chairman branded Operation Tokyo 2020 a "remarkable achievement".

Sir Hugh Robertson also backed Britain's athletes to outdo their stunning performances when they head to Paris for the next Games in just three years.

Robertson and Team GB faced a logistical challenge like no other to compete in Japan at a Games already delayed by a year and plunged into a state of emergency due to Covid-19.

So for Britain to come away with 65 medals, equalling their tally at London nine years ago, is all the more impressive.

"We've proved the doubters wrong," Robertson said.

"Six months ago we faced a wall of people telling us we shouldn't be doing this, it's entirely unethical and the wrong thing to do.

"But when the Games started, they started to be defined not by those moments but by the sporting success, and our athletes have done us proud.

"It all started around 18 months ago when the Games were postponed. The BOA had to try and get the entire athlete body and their coaches vaccinated, and then start the whole process of getting people out there safely in bubbles at different times.

"To deliver 375 athletes in a 1,000-strong party across 26 sports safely to the start line, I'm so proud of the way we've done that.

"We always knew this was going to be a bumpy ride and the success of Team GB's administration operation has been to minimise it to that level.

"To have got Team GB through it as well as we have deserves huge credit.

Cycling's golden couple Jason and Laura Kenny, boxing champions Galal Yafai and Lauren Price and Modern Pentathlon winners Kate French and Joe Choong were among the athletes taking the final flight from Tokyo back to Britain.

Men's flyweight gold medallist Yafai was mobbed by a raucous group of friends and treated to a rendition of 'There's only one Galal Yafai' upon his arrival.

The 28-year-old from Birmingham said: "It's something I've wanted to do for so long and now I can bring it back for my family and friends, for my city and my country.

"I was just thinking about getting through every fight and that's what I managed to do."

Robertson says the experience of Tokyo will stand Team GB in good stead when the Games arrive just across the Channel in 2024.

"There are reasons to be optimistic," he added. "It's only three years away and we have a very young team who will only get more experience.