Sports Minister hails Team GB as ‘credit to the United Kingdom’

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Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes have been described as “a credit to the United Kingdom” by Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games officially begin on Friday, with a 376-strong Team GB going in search of medal success.

The athletes’ dreams of competing have been realised thanks to a combined £342million in Exchequer and National Lottery funding via UK Sport, and the squad for Tokyo is the biggest Britain has ever had at an overseas Games.

The squad is made up of 272 athletes from England, 52 from Scotland, 29 from Wales and six from Northern Ireland.

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All have had to cope with adversity in some form or another over the last 17 months, following the postponement of the Games and then difficulties in training and competing due to coronavirus restrictions.

Huddleston said: “Our Olympic and Paralympic athletes are an absolute credit to the United Kingdom. I’m in awe of their commitment and the sacrifices they’ve made leading up to Tokyo 2020.

“Throughout these challenging times, we’ve remained committed to Team GB and supporting the athletes to reach their full potential. I’m extremely confident that our athletes will create extraordinary moments, lift the nation’s mood and inspire millions of people to get active and take up new sports as we continue to recover from the pandemic back home.

“It’s an honour to be travelling to Tokyo for the competition, and I know the whole nation will unite in feeling immense pride, excitement and is wishing Team GB and Paralympics GB the very best of luck.”

UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger, herself a five-time Olympic rowing medallist, added: “The pride that we feel in the efforts made by UK athletes to make their dreams come true is profound and unshakeable. However, that pride has never been more heartfelt than it is as we look forward to Tokyo.

“I am confident the world will witness a celebration of sporting excellence that delivers a much-needed boost to people everywhere. I am also confident that, while these Games take place in unique circumstances, our athletes will deliver many extraordinary moments and performances for the British public to enjoy.

“We know how much their endeavours mean to sports fans – and how they can be a beacon of hope to inspire and reconnect us all after such a difficult year.

“We must never forget that none of this would be possible without the support of the Government and National Lottery players over the last quarter of a century.”