The summer of 2016 has been an extremely exciting one for Great Britain. It’s been difficult to narrow it down to the biggest triumphs but here are the top five of the season, across the sporting spectrum.
1 – Tennis – Murray madness
As far as sporty families go, brothers Jamie and Andy Murray definitely got the tennis gene. Back in July, Andy won the Wimbledon Championship for the second time, defeating Milos Raonic in straight sets, having beaten him only a few weeks before that to win the Queen’s Club Championships for the fifth time. Following this was the Rio Olympics, in which Murray became the first player, male or female, to win two gold medals in the tennis singles events in an epic four-hour final against Juan Martin del Potro.
For the older Murray brother, Jamie has also had quite the successful summer. The US Open gave Jamie Murray his second Grand Slam victory this year with doubles partner Bruno Soares.
2 – Cycling – Froomey Frenzy
The thirty-one-year-old British cyclist has definitely had a victorious year. Being seen as one the most successful stage-racing riders of the recent era is no small feat and Chris Froome has certainly earned that title this year. Not only is he the first British rider to win back-to-back Tour De France titles, he also has managed to retain his bronze Olympic medal for the cycling time trial event.
3 – Olympics – Britain’s Bonanza
Coming off the back of having a home games in 2012, the Team GB athletes had high expectations for how the Rio Summer Olympics were going to go. Despite the plethora of problems Brazil had in the run up to the games, it was an extremely successful fortnight. These Games were the most successful for Great Britain since 1908, winning a total of 67 medals, which exceeded its London 2012 tally of 65 medals, becoming the first nation to surpass its medal total at the Olympics immediately following one that it hosted.
To summarise some of the highlights of the games:
– Cyclist Jason Kenny became only the second British athlete since 1908 to win three gold medals at the same Olympic Games.
– Gold for sir Bradley Wiggins confirmed him as the most decorated British Olympian with eight medals over five games.
– Gymnast Max Whitlock won Britain’s first ever gold medals in gymnastics in men’s floor and pommel horse.
– Alistair Brownlee became the first triathlete to successfully defend an Olympic title and his younger brother Jonny upgraded his bronze to a silver.
– The pair of Jack Laugher and Chris Mears became Britain’s first Olympic diving champions in the 3 metre synchronised springboard event, whilst Tom Daley became the first British diver to medal in multiple Games.
Overall, whilst finishing second in gold medals to the United States, Great Britain won gold medals and overall medals across more different sports than any other nation at the Games.
4 – Paralympic Paradise
With 265 competitors across 19 sports, Team GB set themselves the target of 121 medals in order to surpass the 120 medals won at the 2012 Games in London. The GB squad managed to finish with a total of 147 medals, which was their best medal haul since the 1988 summer Paralympics in Seoul, South Korea. The team won medals in 15 sports, and won gold across 11 sports which eclipsed even China who medalled in 13 sports and topped the podium in 9 sports.
Sarah Storey, the track and road cyclist, became GB’s most successful female Paralympian, participating in her seventh Paralympic games. With athletes ranging from ages thirteen to 67 all medalling, GB definitely have set the bar high for Tokyo in 2020.
5 – Brownlee Brotherhood
Fresh off the success from the Rio Games, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee were competing in the climax of the World Triathlon Series. Disaster struck as Jonny suffered from heat stroke in Mexico, causing him to fade dramatically with only 700m to go and nearly collapse. Showing the true value of being a good sport, Alistair helped his younger brother across the line to finish in second place. Unfortunately this did mean that Jonny narrowly missed out on the world title, but it just goes to show that the brotherly love between these two is much stronger than the sporting rivalry which is a huge success in itself.
As summer draws to a close, the whole of the GB sporting community can rest easy knowing that they have pulled off a summer filled to the brim with triumphs. With the Sports Personality of the Year contest in the near future, it will be interesting to see how the nominees for it shape up this year, let alone the victors. If anything, the fantastic summer should just be celebrated as much as possible and know that Great Britain have strongly affirmed their place on the world’s sporting stage.