Olympics: Team GB class of London 2012 are golden greats

Olympic marathon 1908
The Marathon event at the 1908 London Olympics. Competitors run past shops on the route between Windsor Castle and the White City Stadium

Great Britain achieved their best gold medal haul in an Olympics for more than a century on Tuesday as they surpassed their achievements in Beijing four years ago.

Triumphs for Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Trott at the London Velodrome, coupled with success for the dressage team and Alistair Brownlee in the triathlon, took Team GB's tally to 22 golds at London 2012 - ahead of the return of 19 in 2008 with five days of competition still to come.

It is now Britain's best medal haul since the 1908 Games, which were also held in London, when the team secured 56 gold medals, although that was far from a modern Olympics, with events such as the tug of war and motor boating contested.

Great Britain have also bettered their overall Beijing medal haul of 47 following high jumper Robbie Grabarz's bronze - Team GB's 48th of the Games. They also look certain to add to that tally in the coming days - UK Athletics had set a target of a minimum 48 medals at London 2012.

Here, BBC Sport looks back at Britain's best and worst performances at previous Games.


  • Britain topped the medal table for the only time in the nation's history after claiming 56 golds, 51 silvers and 39 bronzes. Of the 2,023 competitors at the Games, 676 of them were British.
  • It was the only Olympics at which motor boating was contested, with the trio of (Isaac) Thomas Thornycroft, Bernard Redwood and John Field-Richards claiming golds in the 8m class and -60ft class over 40 nautical miles.
  • The City of London Police also secured glory for GB in the tug of war - a gold the nation also won when it was contested for the final time in Antwerp in 1920.
  • Among their other successes was a gold in the sport of rackets, a precursor of the modern sport of squash. Evan Noel won the men's singles, with Vane Pennell and John Jacob Astor victorious in the men's mixed doubles.
  • Archers Willy and Lottie Dod became the first brother and sister to win medals, claiming gold and silver respectively.
Forrest Smithson (2R) of the USA on his way to winning the 110-meter hurdles final at the 1908 London Olympics


  • Britain's overall medal tally of 47 was the second highest achieved, beaten only by the 1908 Olympics in London.
  • The 19 golds won by Great Britain earned them fourth place in the medal table, in addition to 13 silver and 15 bronze.
  • Rebecca Adlington's victories in the women's 400m and 800m freestyle saw her become the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908.
  • Chris Hoy's hat-trick of cycling golds made history as he became the first Briton to win three gold medals in a single Olympic games since Henry Taylor in 1908, earning the Scot a knighthood.
  • Ben Ainslie claimed a third successive Games gold, winning in the Finn class, which he also won in 2004, having won the Laser event in 2000.


  • Britain finished a disappointing 18th in the medal table after claiming just 11 medals - one gold, two silver and eight bronze.
  • They finished with less than the 1996 Atlanta Olympics squad, who won 15 medals but finished 36th in the final rankings in an era where 197 nations were represented (as opposed to 69 in Helsinki).
  • Britain's only gold came in the equestrian jumping team competition, which was won by Harry Llewellyn, Duggie Stewart and Wilf White. The GB team's equestrian golds in London 2012 were the first since Helsinki.
  • Silver medals were won by Sheila Lerwill in the women's high jump and Charles Currey in the men's Finn sailing.
  • Bronze medals were claimed by McDonald Bailey in the men's 100m, who finished in 10.79 seconds, Josh Disley in the 3,000m steeplechase, Shirley Cawley in the long jump, the women's 4x100m relay team, the men's cycling pursuit team, Helen Gordon in the 200m breaststroke, Kenneth Richmond in freestyle wrestling and the men's hockey side.


  • The United States' haul of 83 golds at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 is the highest ever.
  • The USA's return of 197 medals at the 1904 Games in St Louis (62 gold, 66 silver and 69 bronze) is the highest ever tally at an Olympics.
  • In the modern era, the Soviet Union's total of 195 in Moscow in 1980 is the highest with 80 golds, 69 silver and 46 bronze.
  • Michael Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 medals - 18 of them gold.
  • Hiroshi Hoketsu, 71, is the oldest ever competitor at a Games. He appeared in the men's equestrian at London 2012, 48 years since his first Olympic appearance at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
  • The youngest known Olympic medallist is Dimitrious Loundrous of Greece, who was 10 years and 218 days old when he competed in the 1896 team parallel bars.