Tuesday, August 7, 2012
How much does an Olympic gold medal cost? With a minimum six grams of gold and a large chunk of silver, the pithy answer is about £450.
But as Britain basks in the glory of what is shaping up the to be the most triumphant Olympics for Team GB in more than 100 years, it is worth reflecting for a moment on the reasons behind the success.
Talent, punishing training regimes, pride in a home games and fervent support have of course played a key part in so many record-breaking performances.
But, in the end, as cynical and unpalatable as it may sound, the main reason behind the team's overall success is cold, hard cash.
In the Atlanta Games in 1996, the British team won a grand total of one gold medal, and 14 silvers and bronzes.
The following year, National Lottery funding was injected directly into elite Olympic sports for the first time.
The return was instant. In the Sydney Games of 2000, the British team won 11 golds - the first time Britain won more than 10 golds since the Antwerp Games in 1920 - and 28 medals in total.
Athens in 2004 saw a similar return, the last games before the Olympic Committee awarded the 2012 games to London.