Tokyo Olympics comes to a close as focus switches to Paris after Team GB success

Fireworks above the Tokyo Olympic stadium during the closing ceremony.
Fireworks above the Tokyo Olympic stadium during the closing ceremony.

The 65-medal haul in Japan matched the number earned at Team GB’s home Olympics in London in 2012 and is only two short of the record Rio total in 2016

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The Tokyo Olympics have come to a close with Team GB putting in one of its best-ever performances.

The 65-medal haul in Japan matched the number earned at Team GB’s home Olympics in London in 2012 and is only two short of the record Rio total in 2016. There were 22 gold medals won – the fourth-best performance ever by a British team.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the nation’s successful Olympians have demonstrated “there is no limit to what we can achieve”, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said the athletes have shown “strength, passion and determination”.

Fireworks are seen during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in Japan. Picture date: Sunday August 8, 2021.
Fireworks are seen during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in Japan. Picture date: Sunday August 8, 2021.

Just hours before the closing ceremony, Jason Kenny’s victory in the men’s keirin final made him the most decorated British Olympian in history. The win gave 33-year-old Kenny a seventh Olympic gold medal, moving him one ahead of former British cycling great Sir Chris Hoy.

Jason, who now has nine Olympic medals, is one half of an Olympic power couple as he is married to cyclist Laura Kenny – Great Britain’s most successful female athlete with five golds. Laura said even she was not sure Jason could win gold at four consecutive Games.

“The amount of people who came up to me afterwards and were like ‘I’d have counted him out of this’ – and to be honest, so had I!"

Great Britain's Laura Kenny carrying the Union Jack flag during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in Japan. Picture date: Sunday August 8, 2021.
Great Britain's Laura Kenny carrying the Union Jack flag during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in Japan. Picture date: Sunday August 8, 2021.

“I was speaking to him last night and he was like, ‘I just want to go home’. Then obviously he won – just typical Jason, that.”

Laura, who clinched gold with Katie Archibald in the madison, was chosen to carry Team GB’s flag at the closing ceremony, which she described as “an absolute honour”.

Laura said: “The past 18 months have been tough for everyone, and I really hope me and my Team GB teammates have given the nation something to celebrate.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in that I am now Britain’s most successful female athlete, all I know is that I’ve worked so hard to be here and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends and everyone at British Cycling.”

Andrew Brown, a club member and chair of the committee at Welwyn Wheelers where Laura started racing as a child, said it would be “amazing” to see her as the flagbearer.

Tokyo 2020 drew to a close on Sunday following an impressive medal-laden Games for Great Britain as they claimed 65 medals.
Tokyo 2020 drew to a close on Sunday following an impressive medal-laden Games for Great Britain as they claimed 65 medals.

Asked what it will mean to the club, he said: “I think we’ve gotten to the point of not being surprised by what Laura does because her whole career has been just an absolute fairy tale. “If you’d written the script you wouldn’t have believed it.”

The closing ceremony in Tokyo featured the handover to Paris, which will host the Olympics in 2024.

People were gathered in front of the Eiffel Tower while president Emmanuel Macron was filmed on top of the monument.

A flypast took place leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke in the sky of the French capital.

Praising Team GB, Mr Johnson said: “This team has shown that even in the most difficult circumstances, sport brings people together and changes lives.

You have shown grace in victory and amazing courage in defeat. “And whilst you may not have heard the roar of the crowd in Tokyo, every one of you has given us a reason to cheer back home ­- in living rooms, pubs, parks and offices across the land.

“Above all, you have again revealed the central truth about this country: that when we put our minds to it, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

“Thank you Team GB. We are so, so proud of you. Now, bring on Paris!”