There were plenty of Team GB competitors that became household names at London 2012. Whilst some achieved ‘Legend’ status there and then – by winning one or more golds in uncompromising fashion – others established themselves as Olympic superstars. It’s not to say they didn’t achieve – maybe they’ve achieved a silver or bronze in a previous Olympics, or gold in world championships – and that Olympic top step so far alludes them, but they’re still superstars and amongst the world’s very best.
If they’re heading to Rio 2016 and in form – this could be the games that elevates them to Legend status. So here’s our pick of the established Team GB Superstars taking part. They’re the athletes that have heard of – but need a golden games in South America to join the ranks of the true Team GB Legends…
Tom Daley is a household name. One of the poster-pin-ups of London 2012. Whilst he’s a high profile athlete, he’s not an Olympic legend – quite yet. Daley is up against, what’s a Chinese machine in his chosen sport, so his Bronze at London 2012 was some accomplishment. In 2016 he set his marker winning the European Championship. If Daley can overcome the Chinese and achieve Silver or Gold in Rio, then his status as an Olympic Legend will be assured.
Jason Kenny has won gold in the team Sprint in Beijing 2008, and was in the team that successfully defended their success at London 2012 alongside Sir Chris Hoy and Philip Hindes. But at London games he also added individual sprint gold to that tally. He’s proved his ability time and time again in subsequent competitions – most recently winning gold in the sprint at the 2016 Track World Championships. But he’s a quiet lad from Bolton who quietly gets on with the job. If he successfully defend both Olympic medals in Rio 2016, he’ll be chasing down Sir Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins for the honour – not just of greatest cycling Olympian – but of greatest British Olympian.
Ed Clancy has a medal tally similar to Jason Kenny, but his discipline is Pursuit – which is more of a test of endurance over speed. The team event is dramatic, with four riders working as a team to beat their opponents in a head-to-head that begins offset 180º around the the track. Clancy was part of the team that won Pursuit Gold in Beijing, and added to the tally four years later in London. He’s been performing well since – winning silver in the World Championships in both 2013 & 2015.
Laura Trott burst into Superstardom at London 2012, winning individual gold in the omnium and Team gold in the sprint alongside Joanna Roswell and Dani King. But to followers of track cycling she was already an established world-class competitor, having won Gold in the individual and teams Pursuits and the Scratch race at the European Track Championships in 2011. London 2012 was her breakthrough competition in terms of becoming a household name. Can she retain her crowns in Rio? If she can she will raise herself up to Legend status – she’ll be amongst the company of the aforementioned multiple medal winning elite cyclists of Sir’s Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins. The future could be a sports pairing not seen since Torvill and Dean – Trott’s fiancee is none other than Jason Kenny.
William Fox-Pitt is a veteran of four Olympics – he started representing Great Britain back in 1996 at the Atlanta games. His two Silver’s (2004 & 2012) and Bronze (2008), along with an impressive record in international competition including winning Badminton and Burghley as part of the GB eventing team establish him as one of the greats of the sport. That Olympic Gold though eludes him, and if it comes in individual or team eventing at Rio 2016, it would elevate him to legendary status as one of our eventing greats.
Charlotte Dujardin – along with her horse Valegro – were one of the sensations of London 2012. Her near faultless performance in the Equestrian Dressage electrified the Equestrian stadium at Greenwich. It was a double too – winning outright Gold in the individual event, and providing the focus for Team Gold. Over the past four years Dujardin and Valero have continued to impress – in 2014 winning double gold at the World’s and in 2013 & 15 taking the European Championships.
Lizzie Armitstead won silver at London 2012 in the Road Cycling. Since then she claimed Gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games road race – and more importantly – the World Title in 2015 – against riders whom she will be competing at the Olympics. She also had a major scare when she collided with a photographer as she crossed the finish line winning stage one of the 2015 Women’s Tour and had to quite the race fearing a badly damaged leg. Fortunately she recovered sufficiently to take part in the British Road championships just two weeks later – which she duly won. She went on to win both the World Cup and World Championship in September – so comes into Rio 2016 on the back of a very successful 2015.
The opening ceremony begins on August 5th at Midnight UK time. Team GB will be the 76th nation to appear in the parade of athletes – which is done alphabetically (except for Greece who go first as the Olympics’ founding nation). If you’re going to stay up for it – see if you can spot our Superstars. You’ll probably need a lie-in on the Saturday. And an Olympic breakfast.