Exclusive Interview: Mark Foster – Team GB’s Performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
67 Medals - 27 Gold, 23 Silver, 17 Bronze. What an incredible 16 days of cutthroat competing for Team GB, at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Following the Closing Ceremony to conclude the 31st Olympiad, and the official handover of the baton to 2020 hosts Tokyo, we caught up with BBC pundit and Olympic speaker Mark Foster, to discuss Team GB’s performance at the Games.
Mark is a highly respected British Olympic swimmer and sports speaker, whose insight into peak performance and international competing is sought after by event planners across the globe. Watch him in action, below:
Like many of us, Mark was hugely impressed with Team GB’s medal haul, and the performances of our athletes across all events. Hear what he had to say about the Games, in our tell-all interview.
Q: What did you think of Team GB’s performance at Rio?
“The performance from Team GB was amazing. What they did was above expectations, and that all comes down to having the talent, coaches, support network and ultimately everyone working together as a team.”
“We obviously couldn’t do it without the funding, which has made a huge difference over the last 20 years, but good performance only happens with the right work ethic and teamwork.”
Q: How did you rate the Team’s efforts in the swimming pool?
“Looking at swimming as a whole, I was blown away. You can go into an Olympic Games with swimmers ranking well but because the Olympics is every four years and it’s a pressure box, people have a tendency to underperform.”
“We needed our team to step up and do their best times, which is exactly what they did, and you can’t ask any more than that.”
Q: Adam Peaty did an incredible job of beating his World Record, what can you tell us of his performance?
“[Adam] Peaty was a standout performer and I didn’t see anyone who dominated the field so much. He won by a second and a half, which in a race of just over a minute is a huge margin.”
“He was completely and utterly dominant, and I’ve said it before, but he only needs to maintain what he is doing over the next 8 years and he will win two more Olympic gold medals. He’s so far ahead of everybody else, and he’s not even reached his limit yet.”
Q: How well did the swimming team do compared to their London 2012 performance?
“Yes some people said London was disappointing, and it was so far as medals, but we had 24 finalists and won one silver and two bronzes, so we didn’t quick convert them.”
“This time we came away with six medals and had seven 4th place finishes, so potentially it could have been more.”
“We have made huge shifts forward, first of all in talent but now we also have world-class swimmers paired with world-class coaches, with the two working together to result in world-class performances.”
Q: How important is a strong support structure in sport?
“Chris Spice and Bill Furniss have looked at what the coaches and athletes need and have made it available. People are allowed to express themselves, on a world stage, and it’s a case of it all working in unison.”
Q: Considering the controversy surrounding the Games, how well did Rio do organising such a huge event?
“I thought as hosts they were great; you could sense the energy of the city and the passion of the people. The facilities were good, but it was just a shame that a lot of the venues weren’t particularly busy.”
“The pool was probably the busiest of the lot, but that helps when you have the likes of Michael Phelps swimming. In all, the event was a good event, and they can be very proud of what they did.”
Q: What was your stand-out moment from Rio 2016?
“There were loads of favourite moments for me that it’s difficult to pick just one. My job becomes so much easier when the swimmers do well, so that was obviously a highlight. Seeing Michael Phelps again and for the last time at the Olympics to end his incredible story and then the women’s hockey gold were also brilliant, memorable moments.”
“It was just exciting how positive it was for the GB team as a whole. The winning didn’t stop, and it was just medal after medal.”
Q: Do you think Team GB will continue their winning streak at the next Olympic Games in 2020?
“Those missing out this time will want a piece of the action when Tokyo comes around. I’m hoping we’ll see more medals from the pool and the great thing is that our team this time are young so with a good four-year cycle behind them, and if they stay fit and healthy, they will get faster and improve further.”
“People getting 4th this time around could get 3rd or 2nd as a lot of people ahead of them are retiring. Yes, there will be others come through the ranks, but success breeds success, so the future looks great for Team GB.”
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