Team GB’s end-of-Games grades as the bell rings on the end of the Tokyo Olympics
Great Britain’s sailing team, helped by Hayling Islander Eilidh McIntyre claiming gold, finished top of the class in Tokyo with a superb haul of five medals, while there were also merits being handed out for success in swimming and boxing in particular.
The BMXers - with Portsmouth’s Declan Brooks winning bronze - proved the unlikely saviours for British Cycling, but there was a distinct sense of ‘could do better’ for the athletics brigade whilst rowing dallied with detention after a disappointing show.
Here, The News hands out the end-of-term grades as the bell rings on the end of the Tokyo Olympics.
Britain ruled the waves once again in Tokyo, finishing as the top sailing nation for the fifth time in six Games, and boasting three gold medals for Hannah Mills and McIntyre, Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, and the remarkable Giles Scott. Not forgetting Nacra silver for John Gimson and Anna Burnet, and a windsurfing bronze for Emma Wilson, the team were simply magnificent on the seas of Enoshima.
Adam Peaty again proved his only real adversary is the clock in the 100 metres breaststroke but he now has to share the spotlight after a record eight-medal haul. Tom Dean is a household name after his brace of Olympic golds while Duncan Scott became the first Briton to win four medals at a single Games. There were few standout moments on the women’s side, but British Swimming could bask in a job well done.
Having set the mark so high with seven medals in Rio, Britain’s gymnastics team were on something of a hiding to nothing in Tokyo. The ongoing abuse allegations and selection controversy made it all the more difficult to fashion a positive narrative. But it was there in Max Whitlock’s nerveless defence of his pommel title, the unlikely bronze medal for the women’s team, and the respective emerging forces of Joe Fraser and the Gadirova twins.
Rowing has been a medal factory for Britain in recent Olympics but not this time. The regatta yielded just one silver and one bronze, and ended with a very public washing of dirty laundry over the influence of former super coach Jurgen Grobler. This was a first Olympics for most of the team, and a plethora of fourth places offers encouragement for Paris, but British Rowing must pull together on and off the water.
Britain once again topped the cycling table with 12 medals, six gold, but there was a notable change. Their dominance in the velodrome was challenged as the team pursuit squads were beaten, as was the men’s team sprint. But while Jason Kenny made history in the keirin, new stars also emerged as Beth Shriever and Charlotte Worthington took BMX gold, Tom Pidcock won on his mountain bike while Matt Walls joined Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald in claiming track gold.
Expectation levels were high but the reality was much more stark for the Team GB athletics squad. Injury robbed the squad of three likely medals as Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson saw their Games wrecked. Adam Gemili’s hopes also went up in smoke after a last-minute hamstring injury and Zharnel Hughes was disqualified from the 100m final after a false start having cramped in his blocks. They did earn a respectable six medals – although no gold for the first time since 1996 – as Laura Muir made her 1500m breakthrough and 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson announced herself on the world stage in the 800m.
A haul of six medals – the last time that was achieved was in 1920 in Antwerp – looked set to be underwhelming as Britain flirted with not bringing back any gold medals. Karriss Artingstall, Pat McCormack, Ben Whittaker and Frazer Clarke got on to the podium, but the final weekend belonged to Galal Yafai and Lauren Price. Yafai has for so long lived in the shadow of his older professional boxing brothers but had his moment in the sun with gold in the men’s flyweight division. Price, meanwhile, showed nerves of steel throughout to take top spot in the women’s middleweight category and guarantee a memorable Games for GB Boxing.