Dubai: Great Britain’s athletes rode the wave of optimism washing over the host nation to rack up a post-War record haul of medals at London 2012.
Roared on by packed stadiums in the capital and beyond, the British scored a total of 65 medals, including 29 golds, which saw them finish third in the medals table behind only the US and China. That compares with pre-Games expectations of 48 medals — one more than they won in Beijing in 2008 — and fourth in the standings.
GB’s 65 medals are the country’s most since London first hosted the modern Olympics in 1908, when they won 146. Their haul also show how far sport in the country has come since the introduction of National Lottery finding — in Atlanta 1996 Britain won just one gold medal and finished 36th in the table.
While the majority of Britain’s headline-makers at London 2012 may have been on the athletics track — Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah in particular — their most successful sport was undoubtedly cycling.
Whether braving the elements on the road or raising the Pringle-shaped roof of the velodrome, Britain’s cyclists ruled the world by claiming a magnificent 12 medals, eight of them gold. That blew away UK Sport’s prediction, as they foresaw a maximum of 10 pedal-powered medals.
Britain also impressed in boxing (5 medals), canoeing (4), sailing (5) and equestrian (5), but with their biggest disappointment coming in the Aquatic Centre, where the swimmers could only manage three medals — and no golds — between them, compared to pre-Games expectations of five to seven podium placings.