Great Britain secured a place in the sporting record books yesterday by finishing second in the Rio 2016 medal table, the first time the country has been placed higher than the traditional Olympic powerhouse of China.
The historic feat was assured on a gilded final weekend of sporting action, during which Mo Farah won gold in the men’s 5,000 metres to add to the gold he won in the 10,000 metres event.
The victory meant he became only the second athlete to win gold in both distances at two successive Olympic Games, an achievement christened the “double double”.
His contribution to the medal haul helped Team GB to reap 27 golds to China’s 26. Boxer Joe Joyce might have made it 28 last night, but he had to make do with a silver after his French opponent Tony Yoka won on a split decision greeted by boos after the super-heavyweight final.
Throughout Rio, the British team won 67 medals across 19 sports, beating the total of 65 at London 2012. It means Britain is the first host nation to improve their medal total at the next Games.
Amid calls from the Archbishop of York John Sentamu for Farah to become the latest British sporting star to receive a knighthood, the 33-year-old said his win demonstrated he “didn’t just fluke it in London.”
He said: “To do it again is incredible. I can’t believe it. I wished for just one medal as a junior. It has been a long journey but if you dream of something, have ambitions and are willing to work hard then you can get your dreams.”
Scottish athletics fans had extra reason to cheer yesterday after Callum Hawkins from Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire finished ninth in the men’s marathon on only his third attempt at the distance.
The 24-year-old, who led the race at midway, said: “Top ten was the big goal so to get that at my first Olympics is really good.Hopefully I can go further but the marathon is such an unpredictable sport.”
Liz McColgan was among those to congratulate the young runner, praising what she called his “unbelievable performance.”