Team GB enjoyed a wonderful 24 hours at the Olympic Games to surge up the medal table in Rio with a haul of two golds, two silvers and four bronzes.
History was made in the green diving pool as Jack Laugher and Chris Mears won Britain’s first Olympic diving gold with victory in the synchronised three-metre springboard. There was kayaking gold too, for Joe Clarke in the Whitewater Stadium, as he produced the race of his life to win the K1 class.
Britain’s first-ever Olympic diving gold was a particularly emotional victory for Mears, the 23-year-old from Reading who had life-saving surgery to remove a spleen ruptured while diving in 2009.
Mears was fifth alongside Nick Robinson-Baker at London 2012, while Laugher finished a lowly 27th in the individual event four years ago.
They combined yesterday to stunning effect.
The Scots also made their mark in Brazil with Sally Conway holding her nerve to become one of Britain’s most unlikely medallists in Rio.
The 29-year-old judoka, based in Edinburgh, had never won a medal at world or European level prior to arriving in Brazil but chose the perfect time to make her big breakthrough.
Conway, a bronze medallist for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, beat Bernadette Graf of Austria in a tense bronze-medal contest in the -70kg category, securing victory with a single throw midway through the contest.
Conway raised her hands above her head in delight at the end. “It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m so happy. I can’t even put it into words. One minute you’ve got a chance of becoming an Olympic champion, the next you’re fighting for a bronze medal. It was such a quick turnover. I didn’t have time to think. I just had to get that bronze after everything I’ve put myself through here.”
Conway began the day superbly with a 57-second win over Tunisia’s Houda Miled in the opening round. She then caused a major shock by scoring an Ippon win over world champion Gevrise Emane of France in the last 16.
The Scot produced a third straight victory by Ippon against Linda Bolder, from Israel, to set up a semi-final against Colombia’s Yuri Alvear, a three-time world champion.
Conway was the aggressor throughout the four-minute bout but could not land a meaningful blow and the contest was eventually decided by a golden score when Alvear threw the British fighter onto her back. Conway looked devastated and stayed on the mat with her hands over her face for several seconds but picked herself up impressively to add to GB’s growing medal tally.
In the early hours of the morning a Britain squad featuring four Scots and Englishman James Guy took swimming silver in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay behind a USA team which included Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
It was Phelps’ second gold of the session, 21st Olympic gold and 25th medal in all.
Britain are world champions and qualified fastest for the final, before drafting in Guy in place of the unlucky Robbie Renwick.
Guy combined with Scots trio Stephen Milne, Dan Wallace and Duncan Scott to clock 7:03.13 as the USA won in 7:00.66.
Milne was on the first leg and touched the wall in fifth place, but Scott, on the second leg, moved Britain up to fourth.
Wallace pushed Britain into third place with a storming third leg, leaving it up to Guy, the world 200m champion who had struggled to fourth in the individual event on Monday.
There was also swimming silver for Britain’s Siobhan O’Connor in the 200m individual medley.
Tour de France champion Chris Froome was denied victory in the cycling time trial, winning bronze behind Fabian Cancellara, who rolled back the years to win the second Olympic gold of his career, and Tom Dumoulin of Holland, who took silver.
There was bronze too for shooter Steven Scott in the double trap at Deodoro after he beat Great Britain team-mate Tim Kneale in a head-to-head contest.
And late last night Max Whitlock won bronze for Britain in the individual all-around gymnastics.