London 2012 saw Team GB out perform even the most optimistic of Olympic predictions. Our team won 29 Gold, 17 Silver and 19 Bronze medals – as well us giving us some never to be forgotten highlights like Super-Saturday and Andy Murray’s Gold success on Centre Court at Wimbledon – just weeks after defeat to Roger Federer in the world’s most famous annual tennis tournament. Then there were the stars of the ‘sitting down sports’ that we turned out to be quite good at – cycling and rowing – who carved their status in stone.
Whether it was the fact that we were competing on home soil (where we’re familiar with the climate) or just that a partisan crowd gave our athletes a boost – our sports stars exceeded expectations. A new generation of British sporting Legends were born – and whilst many have retired since, a good number will be going to Rio to defend their golden crowns. So in part 3 of our look at Team GB’s brightest hopes – here are the ‘already legendary’ Team GB Athletes to watch…
They’ll need no introduction. They’re household names that made London 2012 their own and have lived up to their promise at major championships ever since.
Several legends were born on one day alone – Super Saturday and Gold medal success in excess has London 2012 are etched in our minds – but how many are lining up again for Rio 2016?
The Saturday Super-stars
When it comes to all-round athletic ability, there’s no women’s competition more testing than Heptathlon. 7 Athletic events that test every track and field ability. Having missed Beijing 2008 because of injury, Jessica Ennis-Hill bounced back at London 2012. Hers was the first Team GB athletics Gold medal of the games – kicking off a 44 minute – was the first to win an athletics gold on Day 8, Super Saturday.
Want to re-live it – you’ll need this link to the official Olympic YouTube clip – unfortunately we’re not allowed to embed it.
Ooh. That was good, was’t it!
So what’s next for Ennis-Hill? Firstly, she’s heading to Rio to defend her crown back on form. But there is a target that she might aim for. It’s a huge ask, but the world Record – held by American Jackie Joyner-Kersee is 7291 points. That’s a whopping 336 points ahead of Ennis-Hill’s London score.
Greg Rutherford has become the most famous Olympian we haven’t quite heard of – and could be regarded as almost the least well known of the Super Saturday legends. A Long-jumper, he has mastered the art of coming to form at the big events, he’s impressed since London 2012 and was a contender for BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2015. His leap of 8.31m on 4th August 2012 might have been the shortest medal winning jump since 1972, but was still significantly longer than even the silver medal winning position (in fact his second longest jump was good enough for Gold) and it was the starting gun for an amazing 4 year run of success for Rutherford – in winning the IAAF Diamond League last November, he became the first British Athlete in History to hold every available major outdoor long-jump title: Olympic, World, European, Commonwealth, British and Diamond League. He comes across as a thoroughly decent bloke to.
If you want to see GR doing his 2012 thing one more time – here he is in action (it’s another official external link we can’t embed).
Mo Farah was 2012’s middle distance running phenomenon. He annihilated the opposition in both the 5,000 & 10,000 metres – the 10,000 being the third event in the Athletics competition on Super Saturday. Mo’s trademark pose – the Mobot (credited to Clare Balding and James Corden) became legendary alongside him. The affable family man has plenty of charisma, but more importantly exudes the confidence of someone who is unbeatable on track – whatever his competitors might throw at him. A foray into marathon running post 2012 was only half-way successful and Mo has reverted back to defending his two Olympic disciplines in Rio 2016. He remains at the top of his game and has to be a favourite for both distances at Rio.
They might not have obtained their golds on Super Saturday, but there were plenty more Team GB competitors who saw off the opposition and made it to the top step of the podium during the two weeks of London 2012.
Sir Bradley Wiggins
The UKs first ever winner of the Tour de France (coincidentally in Olympic year of 2012), Sir Wiggo is returning to Rio for his fifth Olympic Games. He goes into the competition already the proud owner of 4 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals (joint top with Sir Chris Hoy – although Hoy has one more Gold), and smashed the World Hour record in 2015 – so still shows pace. At Rio he rides in the Road Race, against Teammate Chris Froome – fresh off his 3rd Tour de France win. It should be an interesting battle.
Katherine Grainger has 4 Olympic medals to her name. One for each of the 4 Olympics she has rowed in. The first three were Silver in 2000, 2004, 2008 – and then Gold finally came at London 2012. To us that’s an Olympic legend. A sports star with the drive and determination to never give up. It also made her Britain’s most successful rower ever – and the only female UK athlete in any sport – to gain medals in 4 straight Olympic competitions. She returns as part of the team to Rio and if she reaches the medal rostrum again she’ll equal Sir Steve Redgrave’s record of achieving medals in 5 consecutive games – albeit all of his were Gold – it’s is still an accomplishment worthy of legend status.
Nick Skelton has only won a single Gold medal – team Show-jumping Gold at London 2012. But he’s on our list of legends – because he’s competed in no fewer than 5 Olympic Games (Rio will be his sixth), which means he has competed in more Olympics than any other British athlete. That’s quite some feat. Let’s hope he – and the rest of the Team GB Equestrian team – can add to their medal tally at Rio 2016.
Andy Murray is a British sporting legend, but most of his success has come outside of Olympics a Tennis Professional. Sure enough he won Gold at London 2012 – and will be amongst the favourites to repeat that at Rio 2016 – but we’d like to think he stands out as a Legend well beyond the Olympic competition. Murray became the first Brit to win Wimbledon since 1936, when he won in 2013, but he sealed his legend status winning for a second time in 2016 – just days after renewing his previously successful coaching partnership with Ivan Lendl. he goes to Rio equalling the form of his life.
We’re sure you’ll be cheering every Team GB athlete on – but save a special part of your enthusiasm for these select few – they’re the living inspiration that was the lynchpin of our bid for London 2012, and they’ll undoubtedly be at the front of the Team procession on August 5th.