Great Britain have secured second place in the Olympic medal table at the Rio Games after it was confirmed that China could no longer win enough gold medals to overtake them, with Team GB already surpassing their record haul at any Games after surging past the 65 medal count achieved at London 2012.
It means that Britain have become the first ever nation to better their medal haul at an Games that immediately follows a home Olympics, and matters could still get even better on the final day of competition with boxer Joe Joyce in the men’s super heavyweight boxing final.
Throughout the 15-day Olympic Games, Britain has only failed to win medals on two of them, with days one and 12 passing without success. After seeing a number of medal hopefuls miss out early on, there were fears that the Olympics could fall short of expectations, but they have dramatically exceeded them.
The British Olympic Association initially set Team GB the target of winning 48 medals in Rio, one more than they achieved at the 2008 Beijing Games, in the hope of setting a new record for an overseas Olympics. Given the home support and preparation that went into the 2012 London Olympics, the existing best of 65 medals appeared to be a stretch too far, but the BOA could not have been more wrong.
Britain surged past their target of 48 medals with five days left of the Games, and the women’s 4x400m relay bronze on Saturday night saw Team GB claim their 66th medal to beat the London record and confirm that Rio was indeed Great Britain’s most successful ever Olympic Games.
With Joyce guaranteed a medal in the men’s super heavyweight final, Britain will leave Rio with 67 medals, and will feature in the top two most successful nations for the first time in more than 100 years.
“We’re making sporting history - 67 medals, nearly 130 medallists, across 19 sports,” said Liz Nichol, Uk Sport chief executive. “Even the sporting superpowers haven’t done that in the past, but we are one of those now.”
BOA chairman Bill Sweeney put the success down to “20 years of investment” to culminate in “this outstanding performance” in Brazil, adding: “Since National Lottery funding started in 1997, we have had five consecutive [summer] Olympic Games of medal growth - no other country has come close to that.”
Full Olympic medal table:
With China underperforming this year, only the United States can boast more golds, with their haul of 43 golds and 118 total medals way out of reach of any other nation. Britain follows in second with 27 golds – two short of London 2012’s total – and 66 overall, with China stranded on 26 golds and no further chances to claim victory during Sunday’s closing stages. China do have a better overall medal number of 70 compared to Team GB’s 66, but the International Olympic Committee decide the medal table on a virtue of golds first, given their significance over silver and bronze.
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