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Royal seal of approval for Team GB after Rio Olympics success

Published 22/08/2016

Mo Farah celebrates winning the men's 5000 metre final at the Olympic Stadium
Mo Farah celebrates winning the men's 5000 metre final at the Olympic Stadium

Team GB's stars have received the royal seal of approval for their Rio performance as Downing Street announced there will be no cap on honours for Olympic medal winners.

Congratulating them, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry said the team was an "inspiration to us all, young and old".

It comes as the Queen extended her "warmest congratulations" to the athletes after they finished second in this year's medal table, above sporting powerhouse China.

"London 2012 was a hard act to follow, but you have made the entire country proud of everything you have accomplished," the Duke and Duchess said in a statement.

"We all know that this success does not come easy and is the culmination of years of hard work, passionate commitment, sheer grit and determination."

Britain won a total of 67 medals at the Games - two more than the remarkable haul in London four years ago.

The hard-earned collection from Rio included 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze - the biggest medal count for the nation in more than a century.

Team GB also won gold medals across the most sports at this year's Games, which saw them ascend to the top of the podium in 16 competitions across different disciplines.

The message from the Queen, who is on her summer break in Balmoral, read: "I offer my warmest congratulations to the athletes of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Commonwealth for their success at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"The outstanding performance of Team GB reflects the talent and hard work of the athletes and their support teams.

"I send my best wishes to all those who contributed to this remarkable achievement."

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "extremely proud" of the team's achievement following the "amazing" Games and wants to see that success recognised.

Her official spokeswoman said the "honours are there to recognise and reward people" such as the country's Olympic athletes.

"To surpass what we did in London and become the first country to ever achieve that at the next away Games is a great achievement," the spokeswoman added.

"In terms of honours, there is an independent process. There is no formal cap on the number of honours that can be awarded."

Those members of the squad who stayed in Rio for Sunday night's closing ceremony will return home on Tuesday.

British Airways flight BA2016 will carry Team GB back to Heathrow decorated with a gold nose and the name "victoRIOus" on its livery.

The Boeing 747 will be ferrying 320 athletes and support staff - as well as pole vaults, javelins, bicycles and a 6.7 metre sail.

The flight will also be loaded with 77 extra champagne bottles and treats for team members, who will be offered a three-course menu.

The success of athletes including Mo Farah, Nicola Adams, Jason Kenny and Laura Trott spurred the team into second place in the official medal table, ahead of China. The US was top.

Bill Sweeney, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said the performance was down to two decades of hard work and investment in British sport.

"It has been a brilliant Games but this is not an overnight success," he said.

"Thanks to the contribution of the National Lottery players via UK Sport and their investment, this is 20 years in the making and we've now enjoyed five successive Games of medal growth.

"No one has come close to that and it's an unbelievable achievement."

Rio officially passed the Olympic baton to 2020 host Tokyo at the 2016 closing ceremony.

In a nod to one of the nation's best-loved exports - games giant Nintendo - Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was "helped" to the Games by Super Mario before appearing in the stadium out of a giant green pipe.

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