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Great British Olympians

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  • John Brian Gilbert (1887 - 1974)
    John Brian Gilbert (17 July 1887 – 28 July 1974) was an English men's singles tennis player. Gilbert competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics and the 1922-1933 Wimbledon Championships. Grand Sla...
  • Rebecca Adlington
    Rebecca "Becky" Adlington , OBE (born 17 February 1989), is a British freestyle swimmer. She won two gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in the 400 m and 800 m, breaking the 19 year-old world record ...
  • Bradley Marc Wiggins
    Bradley Marc Wiggins , CBE (born 28 April 1980) is a British professional track and road cyclist, riding for the UCI ProTeam Team Sky. He won the 2012 Tour de France, becoming the first British winner ...
  • Sir Chris Hoy
    Sir Christopher Andrew "Chris" Hoy, MBE (born 23 March 1976 in Edinburgh, Scotland) is a Scottish track cyclist representing Great Britain and Scotland. He is a multiple world champion and Olympic Game...
  • Ben Ainslie, Esq, CBE
    From Ben Ainslie's autobiography. "My Grandfather on my father's side once started tracing the family tree. He went as far back as finding out that our ancestors were Scottish, and were all hung for ...

Great Britainis the name under which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland competes at the Olympic Games.

Great Britain was one of the 14 teams that competed in the first Summer Olympic Games in 1896, and has competed at every Games since. Athletes representing Great Britain have won 715 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, and another 22 at the Winter Olympic Games. Great Britain is the only team to have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Games.

The Top Individual Medal Winners

1. Sir Steve Redgrave

Five gold medals in five consecutive games, coupled with a bronze too, ensure that this man will live long into history as Britain’s finest ever Olympian. He famously said he would never row again following his triumph at Atlanta in ’96, but soon regretted this decision and joined up with Matthew Pinsent and co. to taste victory for one final time at the Sydney Games. Now a hot favourite to light the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony, few would argue with Sir Steve being named the greatest of Great Britain.

2. Sir Chris Hoy

The legendary Scottish cyclist won a silver medal at his first Games in Sydney, 2000, but followed this up with a gold in the 1km Time Trial in Athens four years later. But Beijing is where Hoy earned his knighthood, winning three golds in the Sprint, Team Sprint and Keirin, as well as the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year. What’s more, Sir Chris has his very own velodrome named after him – what more could a man want!

3. Matthew Pinsent

Four consecutive Olympic gold medals is nothing to sniff at, and that’s exactly what Pinsent did. He won two golds alongside Sir Steve Redgrave in the Coxless Pairs at Barcelona and Atlanta, before going into Coxless Four competition and taking home the gold medal in Sydney and Athens. A true modern great, Pinsent’s also won 10 world championship gold medals.

4. Paulo Radmilovic

Paulo Francesco "Raddy" Radmilovic (5 March 1886 – 29 September 1968) was a Welsh water polo player and swimmer of Croatian and Irish origin who won four Olympic titles in a 22 year Olympic career. He won four gold medals across three successive Olympic Games, a record which stood for a Great Britain Olympic athlete until broken by Sir Steve Redgrave when he won his fifth gold medal at Sydney in 2000. In 1928, he was the first person to compete for Britain at five Olympic Games, a record that would remain until surpassed by fencer Bill Hoskyns in 1976.

5. Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford, CBE, (1 January 1899 – 3 December 1977) was a British rower who won five medals at five Olympic Games in succession, an Olympic record in rowing which was not surpassed for 60 years. His record of winning five medals in five consecutive Olympic Games (three gold, two silver), was not beaten until 1996 when Sir Steve Redgrave won his fifth Olympic medal at his fourth Olympic Games (four gold, one bronze). Redgrave then extended his record by winning his fifth consecutive gold medal in 2000 bringing his total to five gold and one bronze in five consecutive Olympiads.

6. Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Marc Wiggins, CBE (born 28 April 1980) - British professional track and road cyclist. Winner of the 2012 Tour de France, becoming the first British winner in its 99 year history, as well as the only cyclist to have won a Grand Tour and an Olympic track cycling gold.

The Tour de France winner has a very good pedigree in the Olympic Games. A bronze in the Team Pursuit in Sydney was transformed into a silver four years later in Athens, while he also won gold in the 4k Pursuit and a Bronze in the Madison event. At the Beijing Games, Wiggins finally got the gold in the Team Pursuit, whilst also retaining his 4k Pursuit gold, taking his gold medal tally to three in Olympic Games.

7. Ainslie, Esq, C.B.E.

Charles Benedict Ainslie (born 5 February 1977 in Macclesfield) is Great Britain’s most successful sailor of all-time, with 3 golds and a silver to his name. Ainslie won a silver medal at his first games at Atlanta in 1996 in the Laser class, before taking the next step up and winning gold at the Millennium Games in Sydney 2000. He then put on a considerable amount of weight to move up to the Finn class, winning gold at both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 to take him up to three golds and a silver medal in his Olympic career. He has surpassed Rodney Pattison's record of 2 Golds and 1 Silver

8. Henry Taylor

Henry Taylor (17 March 1885 – 28 February 1951 was a British freestyle swimmer who competed in the 1906 Summer Olympics, in the 1908 Summer Olympics, in the 1912 Summer Olympics, and in the 1920 Summer Olympics. He served in the Royal Navy during the First World War, and continued to swim competitively until 1926. Taylor's fortunes went downhill after he retired and he died penniless. His record of three gold medals at one Olympic Games – the most by any Briton – stood for 100 years until it was equalled by cyclist Chris Hoy in 2008. Along with American Mel Sheppard, he was the most successful athlete at the 1908 Olympics.

9. Reggie Doherty

Reginald Doherty (14 October 1872 - 29 December 1910) Won three Olympic tennis titlesDoherty won the doubles title (gold medals were not given at the 1900 Games) at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris with his brother. He also competed in the singles tournament and reached the semi-final where he was scheduled to play against his brother. Reggie withdrew, since the brothers refused to play each other before the final. He also won the mixed doubles title with five-time Wimbledon champion Charlotte Cooper. Doherty did not compete in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. In the 1908 Olympics in London Reggie again won the doubles title, this time with compatriot George Hillyard.

10. Charles Sydney Smith

Charles Sydney Smith (26 January 1876 – 6 April 1951) was born in Wigan, the ninth of eleven children born to Thomas Smith and Elizabeth née Sayer. He was a British water polo player who competed as goalkeeper for the England Water Polo team which won gold medals in the London games of 1908, and the Stockholm games of 1912. After the Great War he returned, at the age of 41, as part of the Great Britain team to win a third Gold Medal at the Antwerp games in 1920. He was still in the team four years later competing in the Paris games of 1924 where the team was knocked out in the first round by the Hungarian team after extra time.

Olympian Hall of Fame

(Arranged Alphabetically)

Harold Abrahams

Immortalised in Chariots of Fire, Abrahams took a shock gold in the 100m in 1924.

Rebecca Adlington OBE

At Beijing in 2008, aged 19, Adlington took home two gold medals in the swimming pool – becoming the most successful British female swimmer at the same time. Her 400m and 800m victories also saw her break the 19-year old world record in the final of the latter. She is currently a hot favourite for success in the pools at the London Games.

Sarah Ayton & Sarah Webb

The Blondes in the Boat had the nation wondering how exactly you pronounced the word ‘Yngling’ in 2004 when, along with Shirley Robertson, they took gold in Athens.

Chris Boardman

The man who kicked off Britain’s golden age of cycling, Boardman monstered Jens Lehmann in the final of the 1992 4km pursuit. He decided not to defend his title in Atlanta but picked up bronze in the 52km time trial instead

Chris Brasher

Christopher William "Chris" Brasher CBE (21 August 1928 – 28 February 2003) was a British athlete, sports journalist and co-founder of the London Marathon.

Linford Christie

Affectionately known as ‘Lunchbox’ due to his flattering lycra running shorts, Linford Christie dominated the world over 100m in the early 1990s. He won his only Olympic gold in Barcelona ’92, becoming the oldest winner of this race at the age of 32. The rapid sprinter also managed to win three Commonwealth gold medals to cement himself as a legend in British racing.

Lord Sebastian Coe

While some may only know Coe as the man behind London’s successful bid, the Lord used to be a highly successful middle-distance runner, holding records for both the 800m and 1500m. In 1980, in Moscow, Coe had to overcome the crippling disappointment of losing out on Olympic gold in his specialist race, the 800m, to win gold in the 1500m – beating Steve Ovett on the way. Coe would suffer the same 800m heartache four years later, but he did become the only man to retain the 1500m title in Los Angeles – setting a new Olympic record in the process.

Steph Cook

Put her medical career on hold to win gold in the women’s modern pentathlon in Sydney in 2000.

Nicole Cooke

born Swansea - Cycling, Women's road race finished fifth in 2004, won a thrilling sprint finish in 2008 after hitting the front with four others in the gruelling 126km race. The 25-year-old was grateful for the pace-making efforts of team-mate Emma Pooley.

Charlotte Cooper

Charlotte Reinagle Cooper (22 September 1870 – 10 October 1966) She won the tennis singles at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France where women were allowed to participate for the first time. (Medals were not awarded until the 1904 Summer Olympics).

Malcolm Cooper

Only marksman to retain the gold medal in the 50m rifle event, winning in 1984 and 1988.

James Cracknell

James Cracknell, OBE (born 5 May 1972) is a British rowing champion and double Olympic gold medalist and adventurer. Cracknell is married to TV and radio presenter Beverley Turner; they have three children.[1] In the New Year Honours List, 2004, he was appointed OBE for services to sport.

James De Gale

London boxer DeGale won middleweight gold in Beijing. Nicknamed Chunky, the southpaw beat Cuban Emilio Corra 16-14 in the final.

Hugh Edwards

He won double gold in the coxless pairs and fours in 1932 — despite collapsing during the 1926 Boat Race with a serious heart condition. His skills served him well in the Second World War when he had to row four miles through a minefield after his plane crashed into the Atlantic.

Jonathan Edwards

Went into the 1996 Games in Atlanta as favourite for the triple jump but was pipped into second by American Kenny Harrison. Four years later, he won gold.

Launceston Elliot

Our first Olympic champion was a weightlifter. At Athens 1896, Scot Elliot was pipped to gold in the two-handed event because, despite matching Viggo Jensen in lifting 111.5kg, judge Prince George ruled that the Dane had done so in better style. The 21-year-old Elliot took immediate revenge by winning the one-handed lift by raising 71kg.

Chris Finnegan

Brickie Finnegan took a few big hits on his way to middleweight boxing gold in 1968, including a knockdown by Tanzanian Titus Simba in the first round.

Katherine Grainger

The highest person on this list never to win Olympic gold – but that could all change in London. Rower has three silver medals and there are few people more deserving of an Olympic title.

Judy Grinham

Norman Grinham spent the first six years of his daughter’s life fighting in the Second World War, then decided to bond with young Judy by taking her swimming. Smart move. In 1956, Judy, 17, upset the odds by winning gold in the 100m backstroke in Melbourne in a world-record time.

Sally Gunnell

Sally Jane Janet Gunnell OBE (born 29 July 1966 in Chigwell, Essex, England) is a former British Olympic champion in the 400 m hurdles. She has also worked as a television presenter predominantly for the BBC until January 2006

Dame Kelly Holmes

Inspired by Lord Coe’s middle-distance running in the early ‘80s, Holmes took the track after joining the army aged 18. A fourth-place in Atlanta was backed up by a remarkable bronze medal in Sydney after an injury left her with just six weeks to prepare for the 1500m. Dame Kelly’s greatest moment came in the 2004 Games in Athens, when she claimed gold in 800m and her favourite distance, the 1500m. What makes this feat even more remarkable is that she was 34 at the time of her double gold success!

David Hemery

The Gloucestershire-born ace stormed to gold in Mexico in a world-record time – and almost a second ahead of his nearest rival. Quite rightly voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for his feat. David Coleman got so excited by Hemery’s win in the 400m hurdles in Mexico in 1968 that he blurted out: “Who cares who’s third? It doesn’t matter!” That was a shame for GB team-mate John Sherwood, who got the bronze.

Andy Holmes

The gutsy rower was part of the coxed fours with Steve Redgrave which won in Los Angeles in 1984. Then he and Redgrave took Seoul by storm to win coxless pairs gold.The duo split and Holmes, who also took coxed-pairs bronze in 1988, retired. He died of Weil’s disease in 2010, aged just 51.

John Jarvis

Swimming in the Seine in the Paris Games of 1900, the Leicester painter and decorator won the 1,000m freestyle by an astonishing 73 seconds and the 4,000m by more than 10.5 minutes.

Eric LIiddell

In 1924, devout Christian Liddell dropped his best event, the 100m, because heats were on a Sunday. He switched to 400m and won in world-record time.

Anita Lonsbrough

Aged 19, she broke the world record as she won the 200m breaststroke in 1960. No other British woman won Olympic swimming gold until Rebecca Adlington 48 years later.

Harry Mallin

Boxer who kept amateur status throughout his career won middleweight gold in 1920 at Antwerp then retained his title in 1924.

Lucy Morton

First British woman to win Olympic swimming gold, in the 200m breaststroke in 1924.

Christine Ohuruogu

the Londoner became Britain’s first female 400m Olympic champion four years ago.

Steve Ovett

His middle-distance rivalry with Sebastian Coe peaked at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Ovett (far left) started as hot favourite in the 1500m, while Coe was tipped for 800m glory. Instead, Ovett won the 800m, and had to settle for bronze over his favoured distance.

Rodney Pattison

Yachtsman Pattisson took gold at both the 1968 and 1972 Games in the Flying Dutchman class. He nearly made it three in 1976 but was pipped into second.

Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Louise Pendleton MBE (born 24 September 1980) is a British track cyclist who specialises in the sprint disciplines. Pendleton has represented Great Britain and England in international competition, winning nine world titles including a record six in the individual sprint competition. Pendleton is the reigning Olympic and World Champion for the sprint. In addition Pendleton is a former European and Commonwealth champion.

Mary Peters

Dame Mary Elizabeth Peters, DBE, DL (born 6 July 1939) is a former British athlete, competing mainly in the pentathlon and shot put.

Mary Rand

The Somerset-born star became the first female British athlete to bring home an Olympic gold. Rand won the long jump at the 1964 Games in Tokyo with an unbelievable performance. She initially leapt 6.59m for a new British record before her incredible world-record jump of 6.76m blew away her opponents.

Shirley Robertson

The first British woman to win gold at consecutive Olympics, the sailor cruised to victory in the Europe class in Sydney, then added more bling by teaming up with the Blondes in the Boat.

Imran Sherwani

Newsagent Sherwani wrote himself into Olympic folklore when he scored two goals in Great Britain’s 3-1 win over Germany in the 1988 hockey final. His clincher prompted commentator Barry Davies to yell: “Where were the Germans? And frankly, who cares?”

Terry Spinks

Aged just 18, former jockey Spinks took gold in the flyweight division in Melbourne back in 1956.

Daley Thompson

A decathlon legend and all-round phenomenal athlete, Daley Thompson won two straight Olympic golds in 1980 and 1984. He held the world record going into the 1980 Games in Moscow and lived up to the hype, blowing away all the competition. The ’84 Games were meant to be considerably more difficult with German Jurgen Hingsen having taken his world record, but Thompson never let his lead slip from the 100m to the 1500m, claiming his second straight victory. A hat-trick eluded him at Seoul in ’88, but Thompson’s unbeaten streak from 1979 to 1987 in such a gruelling competition means he is not only one of Britain’s best athletes, but one of the best the world has ever seen.

Don Thompson

Race walker who trained in his parents’ steam-filled bathroom. He put his dizziness down to the heat before realising it was carbon monoxide from a paraffin stove. Nicknamed “Little Mouse” by the Italians at the 1960 Rome Games, the 5ft 5in waddler won the 50km race by 17 seconds.

Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean

Jayne Torvill, OBE (born 7 October 1957) is a British ice dancer. With Christopher Dean, OBE (born 27 July 1958 in Calverton, Nottinghamshire, England), she won a gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics and a bronze medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Dorothy Tyler-Odam

High-jumper won silver in 1936 in Berlin and again at the 1948 London Games, the only woman to win Olympic athletics medals either side of World War II.

David Wilkie

Swimmer Wilkie swept aside claims that he was workshy when he stormed to gold at Montreal in 1976, breaking the world record in the 200m breaststroke.