Athletes from Waltham Forest have won as many Olympic medals at Rio 2016 as India, the world’s second most populous country.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, on a memorable night for local sports heroes, Walthamstow’s Lutalo Muhammad claimed a silver in taekwondo and Leyton sprinter Asha Philip was part of the 4x100m British team that won bronze.
It means the borough can now claim exactly the same medal tally as India, which also has a silver and a bronze. The country is home to 1,293,057,000 (1.3 billion) people, whereas only 271,000 (0.0003 billion) live in Waltham Forest.
Lutalo Muhammad was initially distraught at winning silver, after coming within just one second of a gold medal before being kicked in the head and losing to Ivory Coast’s Cheick Sallah Cissé. Lutalo’s heartbreaking interview immediately after losing the fight, in which he burst into tears, has brought him overnight fame.
Today Lutalo, who also won Olympic bronze at London 2012, was more philosophical: “At the time it felt like the worst day of my life, I was absolutely devastated. It is hard to put into words the feeling of being within a second of being Olympic champion, but it happens, and unfortunately it happened to me last night.
“Even though I was emotionally all over the place I made sure to do a lap of honour because I got such a huge boost from the crowd. Now it is starting to sink in that I am a two-time Olympic medallist, and the most decorated man in British taekwondo history.”
Asha Philip was delighted with her bronze after running the first leg of the 4x100m relay final and helping to set a new British record time of 41.77 seconds, behind gold medal winners USA and second-placed Jamaica. It was the first women’s sprint relay medal for Britain since 1980.
Commenting on the achievement Asha said: “I am in shock. There are so many messages of support from back home. I cannot believe this is happening.”