It only took 90 years for Great Britain to equal its medal winnings from the first Winter Olympics back in 1924. After securing a bronze medal Thursday in women's curling and with a medal guaranteed in Friday's men's curling final, Great Britain will leave the Sochi Games with at least four medals.
That doesn't sound like much, but for Great Britain, it's historic. The Brits are pretty good at Summer Olympic sports — they're third all-time in total medals. But in winter events they've been futile. For comparison: Norway has won 10 gold medals in Sochi. Great Britain has won 10 gold medals EVER.
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In fact, Lizzy Yarnold's gold in the skeleton this year was Britain's tenth. In addition to the two curling medals, Jenny Jones' bronze in snowboarding slopestyle gives Britain its four medals. How excited are British sports officials? Consider this from the BBC:
Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: "For them it is due reward for the years of training and preparation they have put in, but for British winter sport we are witnessing history in the making.
"There's been a record investment of National Lottery and Government funding into British winter sports, and now we have a historic medal haul."
"History in the making?" OK. Understandable for a nation whose best-known Winter Olympian is lovable loser Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards. Changing the narrative is a reason to celebrate. Great Britain took home only a single medal at the 2006 and 2010 games. As recently as 1988 and 1992 they were shutout of the medal podium completely.
What's changed? For one, Britain has doubled its investment in winter sports. It's also stepped up its facilities and support systems. From a pre-Sochi Games article by The Guardian:
The numbers are inevitably smaller in winter sport, and Britain's obvious geographical and climatic challenges when it comes to the Alpine events will always be a factor, but those in charge of investing £14m into the handful of sports where there are genuine medal chances believe there could be a sea change in the way we view winter sport. "We have got more potential across more sports than we've ever had going into the Games. This is different," said Liz Nicholl, the UK Sport chief executive, who has overseen a total investment that has more than doubled on the Vancouver cycle.
"This is almost like the first coming of age of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic teams because they've been benefitting from National Lottery investment over a period of time. Their systems are becoming more sophisticated, we're recruiting and keeping good people."
The structure created around short track speed skating in Nottingham, skeleton in Bath or curling in Stirling has direct parallels with the approach taken by cycling in Manchester. Training is centralised around a high-performance centre using the very best psychologists, research, nutritionists and sport scientists to refine endlessly the search for the best talent.
And, hey, there are still a few days left for Great Britain to try to nab a fifth medal and really make some history.
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