Olympic and Paralympic medallists celebrate success in Stratford shopping centre
- Credit: Archant
Past and present Olympians and Paralympians came together in Stratford to celebrate the “transformational” impact of National Lottery funding on elite sport.
Sir Chris Hoy, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Nicola Adams OBE and Newham's own Christine Ohuruogu MBE were among 25 athletes to surprise the public with an appearance at Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
They highlighted the 864 medals won by Britain's Olympians and Paralympians since National Lottery began funding elite sport through grants in 1997, enabling athletes to commit to their sport full time.
The event on Thursday, October 24 was part of The National Lottery's 25th birthday celebrations.
Britain's most decorated female Olympian and chairwoman of UK Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger, experienced elite-level sport both before and after National Lottery funding.
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She won a place in the British under-23 rowing team in 1997 and went on to medal at every Olympic Games from 2000 through to 2016.
Dame Katherine said: "I came into sport during an incredible period. I remember the struggle athletes experienced to fully commit to their sport before it came along.
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"The National Lottery has been the absolute driving force in making GB a true world leader in Olympic and Paralympic sport."
At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, Great Britain ranked 36th in the Olympic medal table, with just one gold medal and one female medallist.
At Rio 2016, after 20 years of funding, both the Olympic and Paralympic teams finished second in the medal table.
Around 89 per cent of those Team GB medallists at Rio received National Lottery funding via UK Sport.
Baroness Grey-Thompson, who won 16 Paralympic medals including 11 gold over a 27-year career as a wheelchair racer, said: "National Lottery funding has transformed sport at all levels, including grass root clubs, facilities, coaches, the talent pathway and elite sport.
"The success we have as a sporting nation and Olympic and Paralympic support is down to every single person who has or will buy a National Lottery ticket."
More than 5,000 elite athletes have benefitted from National Lottery funding, which enables them to access to some of the best coaching, facilities and support staff.