So. That’s it for another 4 years. 16 days of sporting excitement have drawn to a close making more Olympic stories that we’ll remember for a lifetime. Bolt’s Triple-Triple, Farah’s Double-Double, Phelps’ record breaking run and Murray’s defence of his tennis singles crown. Team GB smashed the target of 48 medals by winning a staggering 67 surpassed the overall total of medals won at London 2012 – the first country in history to take more metalware home in the next Olympics after a home games.
At Rio 2016 Team GB earned 27 Gold medals. Two less on the top step than London 2012, but our overall haul was two more than London. 23 of them were Silver – 6 more on the second step of the podium than London. But its ‘s Gold medal winners who tend to be the ones taking all the limelight and there are some amazing stories. So who were the stand-out athletes behind our haul of Spectacular Silvers, whose success was expected and whose came out of the blue? Here’s our pick of the best of Team GB’s white metal magic…
Lutalo Muhammed – Taekwondo
If you had to pick one Silver medal that was as heartbreaking to watch as it was exciting, it was Lutalo’s. Leading the men’s 80kg Taekwondo by 8 points to 6 in the final seconds of the bout it looked like Gold was his. But with just 0.5s to go, his opponent Cheick Sallah Cissé of Ivory Coast managed a kick to the head – worth 3 points. With no time to retaliate, it was one of the oh-so-close stories of the games from an athlete who was not earmarked as a medal contender. Muhammed – you may have had to settle for Silver – but we’re properly impressed. We hope you’ll be back for Tokyo 2020.
Katherine Grainger – Rowing
Katherine Grainger was part of London’s 2012s goldrush. After 3 successive Silver medals at previous games in Athens, Sydney and Bejing hers was a popular achievement. After a 2 years ‘retired’ Grainger returned to training in 2014 and at Rio she and teammate Victoria Thornley won silver in the double sculls. It was Grainger’s 5th Olympic medal, making her the UK’s most successful female Olympian in terms of total medals.
Jonny Brownlee – Triathlon
The Brownlee brothers are world-class triathletes of the very highest order and the epitome of competitive sibling rivalry. But on the day of Rio 2016s gruelling race, the BBC’s opening montage told a story of Jonny as the underdog to big brother Alistair – with even his father asking a potential coach for help with Alistair ‘who had speed’ – and when asked what Jonny was like implied he wasn’t worth looking at. That may well have been a motivating play by a wiley parent. But Jonny coming second to Alistair is a tale that’s been played out more often than not in the big events. At London Alistair won and Jonny picked up the Bronze. In Brazil the younger Brownlee went one better, but still couldn’t stay with Alistair in the final stages of the run – it was a familiar one-two for Team GB’s dynamic duo.
Callum Skinner – Track cycling
Jason Kenny is a machine. He won a staggering 3 gold medals at Rio 2016. Why do we mention him? Because with one of those victories he beat Callum Skinner – his teammate in the Team Pursuit in which Team GB won Gold – into Silver position. To make the final alongside Kenny shows you have to be world class. But to have to settle for Silver against such a strong opponent means that Callum’s achievement was perhaps overshadowed.
Jazmin Carlin – Swimming
Jazmin Carlin is a Team GB swimmer who won silver in both the Freestyle – 400 & 800m events. At 25, she’s been competing internationally for 10 years, but Rio 2016 was her Olympic debut. Nailing two Silver medals is no mean feat – especially as she was up against World Record breaking Phenomenon Katie Ledecky in both races. Both were fairly tight for Silver over Bronze, so if you took Ledecky out of the equation, Carlin is making a name for herself with some seriously high level sporting achievement.
Bryony Page – Trampolining
Unless you follow Trampolining, you probably wouldn’t have heard of Bryony Page until Rio 2016. Another 25 year old, she excelled in her event winning Silver and in doing so becoming the first ever British Trampolinist to win an Olympic medal. Bryony missed London 2012 due to Glandular fever and Tonsillitis, but has proved her prowess since, repeatedly winning the British Championships and finishing fifth at the World Championships in 2015. Prior to Rio she wasn’t touted as an obvious medal contender in the wider media, but those in the know will say they aren’t surprised.
Of course there were 21 other Silver medals – and all are a story on their own right. Tales of hard graft, commitment, tenacity and – ultimately – just reward. But there are also some cracking stories in the Bronze medal category. And we’ll be covering some of those next.