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Britain’s 5 greatest Olympians: Wiggins overtakes Hoy after team pursuit win

Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | August 13, 2016

Britain’s five greatest Olympians

Sir Bradley Wiggins has now won more Olympic medals (eight) than any other Briton in history, after securing Gold in the team pursuit – his last major race.

Along with teammates Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Owain Doull, the quartet gained revenge on rivals Australia, who came first in the recent Track Cycling World Championships in London, to edge a tense final.

In typical blunt style, Wiggins said of his record-breaking victory: “It’s just more relief really, than anything. That was different for everyone. Doull was punching the air; I was just saying to myself, ‘Thank f*** that’s over’.

“I wanted it to end like this, not some crappy little race in the north of France, Paris-Tour in the rain, climbing off in the feed [zone] or whatever. Brilliant.”

The Belgium-born Brit’s fifth Gold put him one medal above fellow knight and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, but read on to find out who the five best British Olympians are, starting with Wiggins…

Sir Bradley Wiggins: 8 medals (G:5, S:1, B:2)

Gold: 2016 Rio de Janeiro – Team pursuit
Gold: 2012 London – Time trial
Gold: 2008 Beijing – Individual pursuit
Gold: 2008 Beijing – Team pursuit
Gold: 2004 Athens – Individual pursuit
Silver: 2004 Athens – Team pursuit
Bronze: 2004 Athens – Madison
Bronze: 2000 Sydney – Team pursuit

Rio Olympic Games 2016 - Day Seven

Wiggins begun his Olympics career as a 20-year-old in Sydney, Australia – his father’s nation – in the same track discipline he ended on at these Summer Games, in the tea pursuit.

He claimed a creditable Bronze medal, while came fourth in the Madison that year too.

The Ghent-born cycling superstar went from strength to strength, as four years later at Athens he won three medals – Gold, Silver and Bronze – and from then on only ever gained the top prize at London, Beijing and finally Rio.

Wiggins can proudly end his career at the top of his game, as his nation’s best ever Olympian, on top of being a Tour de France winner in 2012 and track and road world champion.

Sir Chris Hoy: 7 medals (G:6, S:1)

Gold: 2012 London – Keirin
Gold: 2012 London – Team sprint
Gold: 2008 Beijing – Keirin
Gold: 2008 Beijing – Team sprint
Gold: 2008 Beijing – Sprint
Gold: 2004 Athens – 1km time trial
Silver: 2000 Sydney – Team sprint

London Olympic Games - Day 12

Although Hoy is no longer at the top of Britain’s Olympic medal table, he remains the only person to have claimed six Golds, which came across three Summer Games.

A Silver in Sydney 2000 in the team sprint sparked six Golds in succession in the following three Olympics, which saw him become one of the most dominant Olympians of any nation.

Scotsman Hoy sits 25th on the all-time list of Gold medals in any event, and is the top cyclist.

Sir Steve Redgrave: 6 medals (G:5, S:1)

Gold: 2000 Sydney – Coxless Four
Gold: 1996 Atlanta – Coxless Pair
Gold: 1992 Barcelona – Coxless Pair
Gold: 1988 Seoul – Coxless Pair
Gold: 1984 Los Angeles – Coxed Four
Bronze: 1988 Seoul – Coxed Pair

Sydney Olympics Redgrave medal

Redgrave battled with illness throughout much of career, suffering from both ulcerative colitis and Diabetes, which makes his feat of five Olympic Golds and six medals all the more remarkable.

Unlike Wiggins and Hoy, the rower tasted Gold in his first Olympics, in the coxed four at Los Angeles 1984, and then gained another four in successive Games.

As well as the above achievements, he is also the most successful Olympic male rower in history, and the only man to have claimed Gold at five different Games in an endurance sport.

Sir Ben Ainslie: 5 medals (G:4, S:1)

Gold: 2012 London – Finn
Gold: 2008 Beijing – Finn
Gold: 2004 Athens – Finn
Gold: 2000 Sydney – Laser
Silver: 1996 Atlanta – Laser

London Olympic Games - Day 9

Britain have produced the most successful Olympic cyclist, rower and Ainslie can add to that list as the only sailer to have won five medals.

An incredible four of those were Gold, the first of which came in Sydney 2000 and the last was in home waters in London 2012.

Ainslie decided to give others a chance this year, and has instead continued his America’s Cup ambition of winning the Auld Mug – the world’s oldest international sporting trophy – with British team Land Rover BAR.

He will be aiming to beat Oracle Team USA, who he was instrumental in helping claiming the competition in 2013.

Jason Kenny: 5 medals (G:4, S:1)

Gold: 2016 Rio de Janeiro – Team sprint
Gold: 2012 London – Individual sprint
Gold: 2012 London – Team sprint
Gold: 2008 Beijing – Team sprint
Silver: 2008 Beijing – Individual sprint

Rio Olympic Games 2016 - Day Seven

Kenny is the only person on the list without a knighthood, although he will surely be given the accolade at some points, after recently adding a fourth Olympic Gold to his collection in the team sprint.

Like the above sporting superstars, anything Kenny touches turns to Gold, literally, particularly in the last three Olympics.

Aged just 28, he still has at least another Games in him, and is also favourite in both the upcoming individual sprint (odds-on at 2/7 with Coral) and Keirin (5/2) in Rio.

Can he match Hoy’s Gold medal record this Olympics? Surely he will eventually overtake Wiggins’ medal tally of eight too, and become the greatest of them all!

Notable others

Although rower Sir Matthew Pinsent and swimmer/water polo player Paulo Radmilovic gained ‘just’ four Olympics medals, all of them were Gold.

As for female athletes, Katherine Grainger has the most medals in British women’s Olympics history with five (one Gold, five Silvers). While, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Adlington, Edith Hannam, Dame Kelly Holmes, Charlotte Dujardin, Laura Trott, Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton have all gained two Golds.

Related

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