Great to be British! Team GB strikes gold EIGHT times in one weekend and rockets to third place in medal's table

Posted on 9:33 PM by Sameer Shah

Britain's Olympic heroes scooped a treasure chest of medals in a sensational weekend to seal the best performance since the war.

A jubilant Team GB can now look forward to a Royal reception and a glorious welcome home after picking up four gold medals on both Saturday and Sunday.

Stellar performances on and in the water and in the cycling velodrome propelled Britain to third in the medals’ table behind China and the U.S. last night.

A remarkable performance: Louis competing on the pommel horse

The fantastic tally stood at 11 golds, six silver and eight bronze.

The two-day medal blitz earned a string of tributes for a team which has smashed records as well as winning races.
Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, said it was ‘the greatest weekend in British Olympic history’. Gordon Brown called it ‘a superb and unprecedented achievement’.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen had been taking ‘a keen interest’ and would host a reception for members of the squad.

With silvers and bronzes, the total weekend tally was 17 – including Britain’s first individual gymnastics medal for a century.

The trio conquered rough seas and lashing rain on the water at Qingdao

With seven days of action left, our athletes have already matched their gold medal haul from Sydney in 2000 and beaten the nine from the last Games, in Athens.

If the score reaches 16, it will be the best for a century. Even as it stands, the Olympians can look forward to reaping the rewards of success.

There seems sure to be a ‘parade of heroes’ in London, and some will find their names on the next honours list. Successful sports could see their share of state funding soar ahead of the London Olympics in 2012.

Their gold was quickly matched by rowers Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in the lightweight double sculls.

Purchase, 22, from Reading, said: ‘We have worked all this year and last year, the last ten years and it comes down to six and a half minutes or so of hell – but with a fantastic result.’

The jubilation went on as sailing great Ben Ainslie clinched gold for the third consecutive Games.

Then cyclist Rebecca Romero – a rowing silver medalist in 2004 – pedalled into the history books by winning the women’s individual pursuit and becoming the first Briton with medals from two different sports.

The 28-year-old from Manchester, who had posed nude on her cycle before the Games, beat team-mate Wendy Houvenaghel, 33, from Bodmin, Cornwall, In a clear show of British dominance.

‘Winning gold is like D-day for me,’ said Romero.

‘I have never been good at any sports, so this is the result of so much hard work.’

Mr Brown, who may also welcome the team to Downing Street, said: ‘The whole country has been watching and has been thrilled. We are immensely proud of what they have achieved and inspired by their performance.’

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Andy Burnham said it was now important to maintain the momentum in the build up to the London Olympics.

Some £400million of funding, £100million a year until 2012, has already been earmarked for Olympic sport. Decisions on where 75 per cent of it goes will be made in December – and based on performances in Beijing. Swimming, sailing, cycling and rowing will almost inevitably benefit.

There are also hopes that success in China will attract more youngsters to sport.

Teenage gymnast Louis Smith is one of the stars on whom hopes for the future will rest.

He won bronze on the pommel horse, the first individual British gymnast to gain a podium place for a century.

The remarkable performance was the climax of what Britons in Beijing dubbed ‘Wonder Weekend’.

Yesterday’s golds lifted Britain above Australia, whose sports minister Kate Ellis had bet her British counterpart Gerry Sutcliffe that her nation would finish ahead.

The ninth day of Britain’s ‘great haul of China’ began on the water with success in the Yngling class for Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, dubbed, inevitably ‘Three Blondes in a Boat.’

Ayton, 28, said: ‘It’s been brilliant, this campaign has been about pure perfection and we’re just an awesome team.’

The four golds yesterday followed those on Saturday for cyclists Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins, swimmer Rebecca Adlington – the first British swimmer to win two golds at the same Olympics – and the rowing four of Tom James, Steve Williams, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge.

Amid all the glory, however, there was heartbreak for 34-year-old Paula Radcliffe, who struggled home 23rd in the marathon.

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