Team GB revived their ‘Super Saturday’ from London 2012 when they claimed 6 medals in Rio this Wednesday after a slow start from the previous Olympic hosts.
It hasn’t been the bets of starts for Great British Olympic team.
Four days into the 2016 games the 300 strong team had achieved 6 medals, only one of which was Gold, landing themselves just outside of the top 10 on the medals table. Whilst this is a great haul , the sole Gold medal (won by Adam Peaty in his incredible world-record beating 100m breaststroke) meant that Britain was slowly falling through the rankings.
Whilst overall positions are nothing compared to seeing our athletes achieve greatness in their respective fields, Team GB have been plagued by medal losses by the tiniest margins in a number of events, leaving the team with a sense of deflation.
Richard Kruse’s loss in the bronze medal individual foil was agonising after he regained control in the latter stages of the match to finish 13-15. Likewise, the GB Men’s Gymnastics team missed out on a medal by 1.37 points. A real tragedy given how brilliantly the team performed across all of the apparatus.
Similar devastation was seen with the Women’s Gymnastics team (who were 1641 points away from 3rd), along with the Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform duo and the GB Eventing team, all of whom ended up in 5th position.
Finishing so close to podium positions was becoming unbearable to watch, more so because of how devastated it left the athletes who had worked so hard to make it to Rio. The reactions of Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow after achieving their Bronze in the Men’s 10m Synchronised Diving proves how much earning a medal means to this team’s athletes, and so it’s been hard to sit back and watch them miss out on one time and time again.
All was about to change, however.
There was already a good mood set in the early hours of Wednesday morning UK time after Siobhan Marie O’Connor and the Men’s 4x200m Relay team grabbed Silver in their respective events. It was well-worth staying up til 4am to see these spectacular races, and this writer was able to sleep happy knowing these athletes had done themselves proud across the Atlantic.
This was only to be the start of a great day for the former home nation.
Fast forward almost half a day and current Tour de France champion Chris Froome secured himself a Bronze after completing the Men’s Road Cycling Time Trial in 73:17 minutes. He faced tough competition from other European cyclists, but after a slow start he managed to bag himself 3rd position by 0.4 seconds and earned Team GB their first medal of the day.
It was in the afternoon that things really took off for Britain.
In his first ever Olympic games canoeist Joe Clarke finished in the Men’s Slalom K-1 with a time of 88.53 seconds to clinch first place and give GB their second Gold medal of Rio 2016. Clarke qualified in 3rd place in the semi-finals, but the 23 year-old from Staffordshire managed to shave off 2 seconds from his time earlier on in the day to win the shock Gold.
The celebrations did not end there, though.
Shortly after Clarke took Gold in the Slalom, the diving duo of Chris Mears and Jack Laugher made Olympic history when they earned Great Britain its FIRST EVER Gold medal in an Olympic diving event. With tough competition from both the Chinese and the Americans, Mears and Laugher dived phenomenally to hold a tight lead throughout the competition, eventually finishing four points clear of their closest competitors. There was very little to criticise about the way the British pair dived, and their place in Olympic history is undeniably well deserved. Here’s hoping that success can be replicated in the individual diving events next week.
Whilst this was all happening, fellow Brits in the Judo, Shooting and Gymnastics all earned themselves a Bronze in what were some toughly-fought battles for a position on the podium.
Team GB were assured a third place position in Men’s Double Trap as Brits Tim Kneale and Steven Scott competed against one another in the Bronze medal match, the latter of which succeeded by hitting every target without fault.
In the Judo, Sally Conway finally earned GB a medal in the Judo after controversial decisions earlier in the week saw some of the team’s other athletes exit the competition earlier than hoped. Despite seeming to be the stronger competitor in her semi-final, Conway lost out during extended time and had to settle for the Bronze medal match. She was determined to leave that arena with a medal around her neck, and after getting one point over on her opponent, that’s exactly what she did.
It was the Men’s Gymnastics, though, that was quite possibly the tightest affair of them all, as Max Whitlock competed in the Individual All-Around final. After qualifying outside of the top 10, Max proved his worth as one of the world’s greatest gymnasts as he held his ground within the Top 3 throughout the competition. Excelling on the Pommel and the Floor routines, Max found himself in third position coming into the final rotation, and the smallest of mistakes would have cost him a medal. He powered through though, and after some far-from-perfect routines from his closest rivals, he secured his spot as Britain’s first medal-winning gymnast in the Individual All Around final.
So Wednesday was pretty magical.
Team GB managed to double their total medal tally in just a matter of hours, finishing the day with 12 medals overall, 3 of which were gold.
This should hopefully put the doubters to rest.
I’ve seen lots of talk about Britain under-performing at these Olympic games. This simply is not the case however. Whilst we may have missed out on medals in events we’ve done well in previously, such as the Team Gymnastics, we’ve also excelled in places that we haven’t in the past, like in Swimming. Although we may be coming first in less events and claiming more Silver and Bronze than Gold, a medal is a medal, and the fact that we’ve positioned so well at all is amazing, especially with so many of our great athletes from 2012 seeming to retire.
And you can’t even compare our performance to that of a year where we held the home advantage. Near enough every team that hosts the Olympic Games does better than their average, not because of cheating but from being more familiar with the setting, and normally having the amazing support from the fans.
So that’s where I’m going to end this coverage for now.
I have my fingers crossed that this ‘Wonderful Wednesday’ will just be the start of Great Britain’s rise through the rankings over the next week or so. We’ve got some great events coming up with the rowing, cycling and athletics, so I’m extremely hopeful that GB can go for Gold.
Who knows, maybe we’ll end up having the real sequel to Super Saturday on our hands.
Update: Great Britain continued to add to their medal haul on Thursday with another 4 medals, one of which was the team’s fourth Gold of the games so far. Won by the Men’s Sprint Team, it was the first Gold medal awarded in the velodrome in Rio after an amazing first day for GB’s track cycling team. The sprint team set a new Olympic Record during their Gold medal match, whilst the Women’s Pursuit Team set a new World Record in their event, leaving British fans very hopeful about the team’s prospects for the cycling events to come.
Three silvers were also picked up by Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley in the Women’s Double Sculls (after defying all expectations and leading the race until the last few hundred metres), David Florence and Richard Hounslow in the Men’s Canoe Double, and also the Men’s Rugby 7s team after an unfortunate loss against the incredibly talented Fiji team.