Best of British
Home athletes have enjoyed great Olympic success over the years. We look at the top star from each Games.
Last Updated: 25/07/08 4:13pm
Home athletes have enjoyed great Olympic success over the years. We look at the top star from Britain to compete at each Games
Irishman John Pius Boland won two of Britain's three gold medals in the first Olympic games, claiming gold in both the singles and doubles men's tennis, joining up with German Friedrich Traun in the pairs. Aged 26 at the time, Boland went on to become the MP for South Kerry between 1900 and 1918.
Britain enjoyed a number of successes in Paris, but the most notable was Charles Bennett, who came home with two golds and a silver medal. In winning the 1500 metres, he became Britain's first gold medal winner in track and field, and then won another gold by leading home a mixed 5000m team and a silver in the 4000m steeplechase.
ST LOUIS 1904
Britain took just three competitors to the USA, winning one gold and a silver. The gold went to Irishman Tom Kiely in the decathlon, the 34-year-old earning a total score of 6036 points to beat American Adam Gunn into second place. Kiely's win was one of just two golds in athletics won by an athlete from outside the USA.
Britain topped the medal table in the games they hosted, with Henry Taylor returning the best haul with three of the 56 gold medals. Swimmer Taylor tasted success in the 400m and 1500m freestyle as well as the 4x200m event, along with John Derbyshire, Paul Radmilovic and William Foster.
Seven of Britain's 10 gold medals in Sweden came in team events, but one of the three individual winners stood out as she also collected a team prize. She is Edith Hannam, who - at the age of 33 - won both the mixed doubles and singles crowns in indoor tennis, teaming up with Charles Dixon to beat fellow Brits Helen Aitchison and Herbert Barrett in the doubles final.
Despite fears that - at 31 - he was too old to compete in the Olympics, middle-distance runner Albert Hill was the pick of Britain's medal winners in Antwerp. He first won the 800m before leading home a British one-two in the 1500m ahead of Philip Baker, and then collected silver in the 3000m team event.
The great Harold Abrahams - whose tale would later be depicted in the classic film Chariots of Fire - was Britain's star turn in Paris, winning gold in the 100m in an impressive time of 10.6 seconds and then being part of the 4x100m relay team which finished second to the USA. After injury forced his retirement a year later, he went on to become a journalist for the BBC.
A disappointing games on the whole for Great Britain - who won just three gold medals - saw the 6th Marquess of Exeter claim the top prize in the 400m hurdles. Lord Burghley, running as David Burghley, was eliminated in the heats of the 110m hurdles for the second Olympiad running, but bounced back to win over the longer distance.
LOS ANGELES 1932
Lord Burghley was again in the medals as he won a silver in the 4x400m relay event, but it was one of his team-mates in that event who returned as Britain's best. Schoolteacher Thomas Hampson added the relay medal to the 800m gold medal which he won in a world record time of 1:49.7.
Britain returned from the controversial 1936 games with four gold medals, but for rower Jack Beresford it was a fifth successive games with a medal. Beresford won silver then gold in the single scull event in 1920 and 1924, another silver as part of the eight in Amsterdam and gold as part of the coxless four in 1932 before bringing the curtain down with a gold in the double scull in Berlin alongside Leslie Southwood.
The first post-war games were a disappointing affair for the British team, who managed just three golds - all in team events on the water - on home soil. But Dorothy Manely, Audrey Williamson and Maureen Gardner all earned silver medals on the track, each beaten by four-time gold medal winner Fanny Blankers-Koen - "The Flying Housewife".
Britain again struggled to get on the top step of the podium and claimed just one gold medal in the games as Harry Llewellyn, Duggie Stewart, and Wilf White won the Equestrian team jumping event. Just two silver medals were won, the most notable of which was to high jump world record holder Sheila Lerwill.
Chris Brasher shot to fame with a 3000m steeplechase win, one of six golds won in an improved British showing. Brasher's joy was initially shortlived though as he was initially disqualified for interfering with an opponent, before being reinstated the following day. He went on to co-found the London marathon.
Anita Lonsbrough was just 19 years old as she won one of just two British gold medals in Rome with a record breaking swim in the 200m breaststroke. She pipped Germany's Witrud Urselmann by half a second to take gold in a time of 2:49.50 and two years later became the first female winner of BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Ann Packer took gold in the 800m in Tokyo - the last female to win that event before Kelly Holmes in 2004. Her room-mate Mary Rand also won the long jump while Robbie Brightwell won silver in the 4x400m event and later married Packer, with the couple having three children including future Manchester City players Ian and David Brightwell.
Five golds and five silvers was not a great return for Team GB in Mexico, but the headline maker was equestrian Derek Allhusen, who at the age of 54 collected two medals. He had competed in the 1948 Winter Olympics and took gold in the three-day event team competition alongside Jane Bullen, Ben Jones and Richard Meade and an individual silver.
Britain's equestrian success continued in Munich as Meade earned another Team Event gold and also took the individual title, but the real star for Britain in Munich was Mary Peters, who beat local favourite Heide Rosendahl to claim the Pentathlon gold at the age of 33.
Scotsman David Wilkie had made a splash when winning silver in the 200m breaststroke in Munich but went one better four years later
with a world-record time - and to add to his joy, he claimed silver in the 100m event, ensuring two of Britain's 13 Montreal medals came back with him.
Britain claimed five gold medals in Moscow but the heroes were track duo Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, who were at the height of their on-track rivalry. Ovett was the favourite for the 1500m, but he instead took gold in the 800m with Coe in second, before Coe won the gold in the longer event, beating Ovett into third place.
LOS ANGELES 1984
Coe retained his 1500m title as Britain shone in track and field in Los Angeles, but it was another man who retained a title who was the star turn as Daley Thompson earned a world record equalling points haul to take gold in the decathlon. He was the first man to simultaneously hold Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World titles in a single event.
Malcolm Cooper's achievement in winning the gold in the 50m Rifle Three Positions in Los Angeles had been overshadowed by the athletics achievements, but he retained his title four years later. He is still the only man to win this event twice. Cooper died of cancer in 2001, aged 53.
Sally Gunnell and Linford Christie were the heroes for Britain with long-awaited track wins. Gunnell was the first female track winner in 28 years in the 400m hurdles, while Christie - who won silver in 1988 - became the oldest man by four years to become the men's 100m champion.
Britain's worst medal haul since 1952 saw them win just one gold medal and finish in their lowest position in the medal table but it was a fourth for Steve Redgrave, who linked up again with Matthew Pinsent as the two won the coxless pairs event for the second games running.
Millions of Brits stayed up late in the night as Redgrave became the first Brit to win five consecutive gold medals as he and Pinsent teamed up with James Cracknell and Tim Foster to win the coxless fours, one of 11 gold medals won in an impressive British team performance.
Former Army sergeant Kelly Holmes was the hero for Britain with an unprecedented track double. Despite suffering an injury-hit build-up, she started as one of the favourites for the 800m and ran a well-paced race to nick the gold on the line - and then five days later she repeated the trick with an equally dramatic 1500m win.