Olympic stars putting GB on the map

By Maria Hopwood

  • Max Whitlock makes Team GB gymnastic Olympic history
  • Katherine Grainger and Sir Bradley Wiggins most decorated British Olympian’s
  • Mo Farah and Andy Murray retain Olympic titles
RIO DE JANERIO, BRAZIL – Super Saturday has been replaced by Super Sunday in 2016, as day 8 of the Olympics proved to be an extremely successful and exciting day for Team GB.

 

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Super Sunday followed on from a week in which Team GB broke records, made history and won many medals, on course to improve on their tally in 2012. The team’s 2016 achievements have spanned a diverse range of sports, creating history, amazing performances, and some surprising results.

Leading up to Sunday the headlines belonged to the rowing and track cycling teams, with two historic gymnastic results sandwiched between them.

Britain’s rowers made history as they continued to impress, with Katherine Grainger and Victoria Thornley first up winning a well deserved silver medal, a satisfying achievement after all the issues which surrounded their build up. In winning silver Grainger became Britain’s most successful female Olympian, with her fifth medal.

The rowing team followed up Grainger and Thornley’s medal, with Helen Glover and Heather Stanning successfully defending their London 2012 gold medal. It didn’t end there as the men’s fours won an impressive fifth successive Olympic gold, whilst the men’s and women’s eights also enjoyed success. The women’s eights won Britain’s first eights medal, after finishing in fourth place at the 2015 World Championships, whilst the men’s eights reclaimed gold for the first time since 2000.

Staying with success in the water, GB’s swimming team won one gold and five silvers, two from Jazz Carlin, whilst also being placed fourth on seven occasions. Their medal success made this Olympics their most successful Olympics since 1908.

Away from the water , on the cycling track, Team GB broke records, won gold medals and Sir Bradley Wiggins became Britain’s most decorated Olympian surpassing Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave. Wiggins won a record eighth medal in the team pursuit alongside Ed Clancy, Owain Doull and Steven Burke beating Australia by almost a second.

An Olympic record was also set in the sprint by Phillip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner, in a shock victory against New Zealand. This followed an amazing performance in the women’s team pursuit in which Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald cycled to a world record time to qualify for the women’s pursuit final. They followed that performance with another world record to retain the gold medal, making Trott the first British woman to win three gold medals.

Gold and silver were assured in the men’s sprint final as Jason Kenny and Skinner made the final, eventually won by Kenny who now has now won five gold medals.

One of the most impressive British achievements is that of gymnast Max Whitlock, who began by winning bronze on Wednesday. Britain had not won a medal in the men’s all round event for a staggering 108 years, which shows what a great achievement his third place was. Britain then achieved another gymnastic first as Bryony Page bounced her way to an unexpected silver medal, surprising herself as well as her country, by winning Britain’s first ever trampolining medal.

Better was to come though, when on Sunday Whitlock added to his medals by winning two golds in the space of 90 minutes. Whitlock’s first gold came in the floor exercise event, his second on the pommel horse with team mate Louis Smith claiming silver.

On Saturday night the Athletics events proved successful for Britain, albeit not as successful as Super Saturday in 2012. Mo Farah defending his 10,000m title, recovered from a fall during the race, to win in style. Jessica Ennis-Hill defended her heptathlon title with great determination, but the gold was just out of her reach losing out to Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam by 35 points.

An emotional Ennis-Hill will now decide on her future in athletics, whilst Katarina Johnson-Thompson showed great promise particularly in a compelling high jump competition, where she set a new British record. Meanwhile in an exciting long jump event, Greg Rutherford was unable to reclaim his title, finishing in the bronze medal spot but nonetheless an impressive defense of his title.

Another notable medal came in golf, which was controversially added to the Olympics for the first time since 1904. Although dogged by controversy and the absence of some high profile golfers, the tournament proved successful and was fittingly won by Britain’s Justin Rose who keenly championed golf’s return to the Olympics.

By the end of Sunday Team GB had won five gold medals, the last of which went to Andy Murray, who beat Juan Martin Del Potro in a thrilling match which lasted for four hours. Murray made history by becoming the first tennis player to retain the singles gold medal, both men were exhausted and tearful at the end of the match finishing off an exciting tennis tournament in style.

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