Andy Hunt: 2012 was our greatest year but better never stops as we are already planning ahead

Monday, 24 December 2012
Andy Hunt BOAUnforgettable. Incomparable. Unbeatable? The year 2012 will forever be remembered as one of the greatest in British sporting history.

During the magical summer of 2012 we witnessed the unique power of sport to unite and inspire our nation. Team GB felt a wave of support from every corner of the United Kingdom. People of all ages, beliefs and backgrounds rallied behind our athletes and lifted them to unprecedented heights of success.

Within each of us, we rediscovered the spirit of camaraderie, friendship and understanding that is at the heart of the Olympic Games. It was a year in which Britain was truly "Great", and London was the centre of attention once again.

On the field of play, Our Greatest Team – Team GB and ParalympicsGB – delivered an incredible 185 medals to light up the London 2012 Games and inspire generations to come.

Mo Farah celebrating with Team GB flagMo Farah was among the stars of London 2012 by becoming the first Briton to win the Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres titles

When it mattered most, on the greatest stage of all, our athletes stepped up and delivered. And they did so in front of the most passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic sports fans in the world.

For Team GB and ParalympicsGB to have the honour of receiving the prestigious BBC Sports Personality 'Team of the Year' award last Sunday was a very fitting tribute to everyone involved.

First and foremost to the 541 athletes from 26 diverse sports, who have relentlessly dedicated and sacrificed so much in pursuit of their goal of competing for Team GB at the Olympic Games.

Secondly to the coaches, training partners, medical personnel and other support staff who devote themselves day-in day-out to giving our athletes the very best chance of achieving their personal best.

Ellie Simmonds London 2012It was a momentous Games for teenager Ellie Simmonds who won two gold medals during the London 2012 Paralympics

Finally, to our valued and trusted partners at the National Governing Bodies, UK Sport, Government and our Corporate Sponsors, who all worked together in a spirit of collaboration to reach a shared goal of making certain the athletes of Team GB had the very best opportunity for success at London 2012.

On a personal note, 2012 has certainly been the most exciting, challenging and ultimately fulfilling of my life in leading Team GB at a Home Games. There are simply too many highlights and too many firsts to mention, but this is a year that I know I will look back on with real pride, as I simply don't think we could have done anything more at the British Olympic Association (BOA) to provide a better platform for Team GB athletes at the London 2012 Games.

In keeping with the BOA motto of "Better Never Stops", we are already moving ahead full steam with our planning and preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and of course the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, which are now just 14 months away.

And as part of our strategy to support the development of future Olympic stars, we are taking a team of 120 young athletes from 11 sports to compete at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in January, the first of seven Youth Olympic events at which Team GB will be represented during the next four years.

Laura Trott of Great Britain and British Cycling director Dave BrailsfordLaura Trott celebrates with British Cycling director Dave Brailsford after winning Olympic gold in the women's omnium, her second of the Games

We are delighted that the overall level of funding for British Olympic sport is increasing. This represents a tremendous vote of confidence in the British sport system, its coaches and high performance personnel and, most importantly, the athletes who continue to deliver on the national and international stage.

Rio 2016 is four years away and the hard work now begins in earnest to maintain the momentum that was established by Team GB at the London 2012 and Beijing 2008 Games.

However, some sports over the last week have received the disappointing news that their UK Sport funding has ceased and no doubt, they recognise this will make the process of qualifying for Rio 2016 all-the-more challenging. We hope these sports recognise that they delivered credible, competitive performances at the London 2012 Games and did so in a manner that made our country proud.

Of course, we all owe a debt of gratitude to The National Lottery and lottery players throughout the United Kingdom – whose support is so critical to the success of British athletes and Team GB.

From the BOA and Team GB, to everyone who made 2012 a year none of us will ever forget, we offer our heartfelt congratulations and thanks. It was a truly remarkable year for British sport.

Andy Hunt is the chief executive of the British Olympic Association (BOA)
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