Once every four years the Olympic and Paralympic Games come around and create a buzz of excitement around the world.
You had to be pretty isolated not to realise that last month it was that time once again as the Olympics made their way to Rio for 2 weeks of non-stop sporting action. It was an intense time for GB who put on an incredible performance in both of the Games, and with it now all over I wanted to look back and see how Rio 2016 compared to the team’s past performances.
Expect to see a fair few graphs along the way.
There was always going to be a lot of pressure on GB to perform having been so successful at the 2012 Games. The only problem was that no country had ever exceeded their performance at the previous Olympics where they were the host nation.
And it’s understandable why.
No home advantage. No home crowds. GB were bound to perform slightly worse than they had in London…but they didn’t.
In fact from the very start they exceeded what they’d managed back in 2012, and by the time the Games came to a close GB had finished with 2 more medals than they had done four years previously. That might not seem like much of an improvement, but this made Great Britain the first ever nation to win more medals at an Olympic Games four years after being the hosts. It also meant the team exceeded their set target by 20 medals, which shows just how exemplary their performance in Rio really was.
TARGET MEDALS – 47 MEDALS ACHIEVED – 67
The case wasn’t quite the same when it came to the Gold that the team earned, in fact it was a reverse of the overall table with GB falling two medals short of their haul from London 2012.
Whereas the team finished their home Games with 27 Gold medals, they settled for 25 over in Rio, not that that is anything to scoff at. It was still enough to sit GB in 2nd position in the rankings come the end of the Games, being pipped to the post by the United States who left Rio with 46 Gold medals.
This meant that GB finished above dominant countries like China in a Games that will be remembered by the British for a long time to come.
Although GB took home slightly less Gold from Rio than they won in London, there was a greater number of Silver won in 2016 than in 2012. There was also a greater proportion of 2nd place finishes than 3rd place finishes, meaning the team’s performance was slightly stronger over in South America than it was on home ground.
This is quite an impressive feat given what I mentioned earlier about no nation ever performing better in another country’s Olympics having been the hosts of the previous Games.
With GB having done exceptionally well in the Olympics there was an unspoken pressure on the Paralympic team to perform just as strongly.
With more medal chances in these Games compared to the Olympics, GB’s disabled athletes were always going to take home more medals than their able-bodied ones. The question was: would they win more than they did in 2012?
And the answer? A resounding yes!
Throughout the entire competition the team hardly ever faltered. Their medals rose steadily and fairly consistently from day 1 – 10, only halting on the final day as the amount of events scheduled dropped to a very small number.
By day 8 GB had surpassed their total from Beijing and were in the process of leap-frogging their 2012 performance. They ultimately finished 27 medals ahead of London, although it’s hard to judge the full extent of their improvement given by the exclusion of Russia’s Paralympics team.
However, given how dominantly GB performed across the majority of the sports I am certain their total from this year would still have beaten 2012, even if maybe some of their Golds had been demoted to Silvers or Bronzes.
TARGET MEDALS – 121 MEDALS ACHIEVED – 147
It’s hard to find words to sum up GB’s Gold medal tally.
The team were practically unstoppable all day, every day. By the halfway stage of the Games GB were overtaking their Gold haul from 2012, and then a few days later surpassed the number they won in Beijing. Apart from on the final day the team were winning Gold medal after Gold medal in whatever they could. More so, they were coming first in events that they hadn’t done back in 2012, including Table Tennis, as well as continuing to be dominant in others, such as Equestrian.
It was a proud time to be British this Summer, as Paralympics GB’s amazing achievements meant they too finished their Games in 2nd position in the overall rankings, this time losing out to China who won an incredible 107 Gold medals. Coming in 3rd was the Ukraine, who for much of the competition were GB’s greatest rivals as their strong performances in the pool threatened to overtake the Brits on the medal table.
Unlike with the Rio Olympics, GB’s Silver medal performance at the Paralympics was slightly lower than it was in London 2012 as it was exceeded by the total of Bronze. Given how great the difference is between the Golds won in 2012 and in 2016, Rio is still quite clearly GB’s stronger Paralympic Games.
This impressive number of Gold medals won meant that Rio 2016 was GB’s greatest Paralympic Games since Seoul in 1988, and is also their greatest achievement since they began receiving funding from the National Lottery in 1994.
*header image taken by Craig Morey at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pixelthing/