The Achievement


Three golds and two silvers - Mark Chisnell is still trying to get his head round it ...
The Sydney 2000 Games closed on Sunday with a masterpiece of Australian kitsch, and the most impressive firework display I’ve ever seen. But apart from the fireworks, this Games has also set new standards for general Olympic organization, and for Olympic regattas in particular. We can only hope that Glenn Bourke and his management team will be given the chance to pass their experience along to the Greek organizers of the 2004 event. A new standard has also been set for British sailing teams - three golds and two silvers. I keep repeating it in the hope that it’ll become more believable - but this is nothing less than the team deserved. To get a grasp of the scale of the achievement, you just need to look at a few statistics. The only time we’ve won more medals was back in 1908, when we got four golds, a silver and a bronze at a regatta held in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, and attended by five nations. Even back in the halcyon days of Rodney Pattisson, in the late sixties and early seventies, we never managed better than a gold and silver - and this was a world with just over 40 nations able to compete at the Olympic regatta. There were 69 countries sailing in Sydney, a rather more competitive environment. In fact, apart from Melbourne in 1956, when Britain won two bronzes and a silver, we’ve not managed to bring home more than two medals from any Games since 1908. It’s easy to say that it’s the Lottery money that’s made the difference. And writing as one of the many sailors that have seen their own Olympic ambitions fold into a debt-ridden nightmare - yes, the money helps. But it’s not the whole story. It’s how you spend

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