The opening day of the Rio Olympic Games brought alarm among British fans who feared the wait for a first medal could be a sign of things to come. That wait ended on the second night when Adam Peaty and Jazz Carlin secured gold and silver respectively in the swimming pool to get Team GB on the medal board.
The frustrations continued though, and a trend soon developed of Britain securing fourth-place finishes to repeatedly miss out on medals. On top of this, genuine medal hopes failed to materialise, with Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates all missing out in the men’s road race and Lizzie Amitstead likewise in the women’s event, along with the men’s gymnastics team.
Both Hannah Miley and James Guy agonisingly missed out on a medal in the pool, while both Max Litchfield and Ricard Kruse exceeded expectations in finishing fourth in the men’s 400m individual medley and individual foil respectively.
The trend continued on Thursday when the men’s coxless pair finished fourth after Stewart Innes and Alan Sinclair narrowly missed out on a medal.
The near-misses triggered fears that Britain could fall short of its medal target of 48, one more than they achieved at Beijing 2008 which is being used as a benchmark for success at this Games. It was decided that London should not be seen as the target for Rio 2016 due to the advantage that Team held from gaining automatic entry to all events, the ferocious home support it received and the benefit of having seven years to prepare venues to their requirement.
It will come as a surprise then to hear that Great Britain head into day six with a better record than they did at the same stage during London 2012. Four years ago, Britain were able to boast gold medals, coming in the men’s time trial courtesy of Sir Bradley Wiggins and the women’s coxless pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
This time around, Britain already have three gold medals through 100m breaststroke swimmer Adam Peaty, Joe Clarke in the kayak slalom and the pair of Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the 3m synchronised diving.
The silver medal count is the same, with 2012’s haul courtesy of Amitstead, Michael Jamieson and the equestrian eventing team being matched this time around by 400m freestyle swimmer Jazz Carlin, the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor in the 200m individual medley.
Rio 2016 has also already produced more bronze medals than at the same stage of London 2012. Four years ago, third place finishes from Rebecca Adlington in the 400m freestyle, Froome in the time trial, the men’s eight rowing team and the men’s gymnastics squad gave Team GB a total of four bronze medals, but Britain have gone two better this time around.
Froome has matched his performance in the time trial, while Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow finished in a dramatic third place in the 10m synchronised diving and Edward Ling won the bronze final in the men’s trap shooting. Steven Scott also claimed bronze in the men’s double trap, with Sally Conway and Max Whitlock adding further success in the women’s 70kg judo and men’s all-around gymnastics respectively.
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