From the track to the pool and across all kinds of courts, rings, courses, and fields, athletes from Team Great Britain are winning medals and making history at the Olympics in Rio. It’s the most successful U.K. team in an overseas Olympics by a long shot, and 2016 will likely be the first time that the U.K. has ever won more gold medals than China. Here are just a few of Team GB’s amazing historic moments:
One of the best athletic days in U.K. history happened on August 7th, when Team GB racked up six gold medals and three silvers, tying the most medals the country has ever won in a single day of Olympic competition. Before the 2012 games, when Team GB also won six gold medals in a single day, Britain had failed to win more than five gold medals over the entire Olympics for the 17 previous Olympic games. Put another way, the medal total in a single day was more than the entirety of multiple previous Olympics combined. The medals this year came from a wide range of sports, showcasing the diversity of the talented 2016 team.
Max Whitlock dazzled audiences and judges when he became the first person ever from Britain to win a gold medal in gymnastics with his floor routine. He sweetened the deal just an hour later by winning another gold on the pommel horse. Justin Rose took home gold in the men’s golf competition, the first time golf has been in the Olympics since 1904. The golf game came down to the final hole, with Rose in a lock with Henrik Stenson of Sweden, before he ultimately won with a stunning final score of 15 under par. Jason Kenny beat countryman Callum Skinner in the individual cycling spring race, marking an impressive one-two finish in the race that many referred to as the “Battle of the Brits.” Andy Murray also brought home gold by winning the men’s singles tennis match for the second straight Olympics – making him the first ever to defend his title. In sailing, Giles Scott cruised to a commanding lead in the Finn race and became virtually uncatchable, but he had to wait until his competition finished the next day to ultimately take home the gold.
The only downside to the historic events were bleary-eyed fans headed to work the next day who had stayed up late to watch the action unfold in Brazil.
Following the sensation of Sunday, Tuesday August 9th brought in a huge medal haul and raised Team GB over its projected medal count with days left in Olympics competition. In a single day, the team won three gold medals, two silvers, and four bronzes,
“What this team has delivered so far at Rio 2016 is an incredible achievement and the country should be extremely proud of the athletes and their support staff,” said team boss Mark England. The best ever away Games is a piece of history, and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to reach that target so on early on at Rio 2016.”
With two more gold medals, cyclist Laura Trott brought her career total to four Olympic gold medals, making her the first female British Olympian to do so. Medals for the day also came in sailing, cycling, diving, gymnastics, and boxing. With a bronze medal, Amy Tinkler became the first British female gymnast to medal in the event. Tinkler also happens to be the youngest athlete in the entirety of Team GB at just 16 years old.
There were a number of remarkable individual performances in Rio, but perhaps none was better for Team GB than cyclist Jason Kenny, the Olympic cycling sprint champion from the London games, who won two gold in Rio, giving him a total of six career Olympic gold medals, tied for the most in U.K. history. To win historic gold number six, Kenny fought through a keirnin race that had to be restarted three times. He eventually beat Matthijs Büchli of the Netherlands to take home his historic medal. Kenny left Rio with three gold medals—aside from the keirnin race, he also took home gold in the team sprint race and gold in the individual sprint race.
“It is special, really special,” said Kenny. “I’m really grateful. When we win, it feels like the team is winning and we have everyone behind us, pushing us.”
Kenny is just 28 and has the possibility to compete at the 2020 Olympics to create more history. He is engaged to another U.K. cycling superstar, Laura Trott, who won two gold medals in Rio, bringing total career gold medals for the two of them combined to a staggering 10. Kenny shares his top gold medal honors with cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, who raced for team GB in the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics.
Officials for Team GB poured money and resources into developing the best athletes over the past four years, with millions of dollars coming from the National Lottery. Clearly the effort is paying off beyond anyone’s wildest dreams as personal and national triumphs occur on a daily basis. The Rio Olympics are historic for a number of reasons, especially for the performance of Team GB.