Theresa May: No limit on honours for Rio Olympians

Gold medalist Andy Murray of Great Britain poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's singles. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Gold medalist Andy Murray of Great Britain poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's singles. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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The rush of gongs for Team GB’s homeward bound competitors looks set to continue after Downing Street confirmed there will be no formal cap on honours for the country’s victorious athletes and coaches.

In a show of gratitude to the contingent who rewrote Olympic history in Rio, Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out any restrictions on the numbers of honours that can be conferred, citing the team’s achievements as a “special circumstance.”

It opens the way for the likes of Andy Murray and Mo Farah to receive knighthoods after their high profile wins in Brazil, with a host of other athletes likely to follow.

After London 2012, a total of 78 honours were bestowed on the country’s Olympic and Paralympic competitors, coaches and managers.

Mrs May’s official spokeswoman said: “We have had an amazing fortnight at the Rio Olympics and we should be looking at the differing ways that we can recognise and reward the athletes for all they have achieved, and honours are there to recognise and reward people.”

Distance runner Farah was given a CBE after his success at London 2012, but said it would be “amazing” to become Sir Mo.

He said: “I didn’t even dream of becoming Olympic champion, let alone four times.

“Anything is possible, but for me it is up to the public. I just have to enjoy what I do and keep winning medals for my country because I just love winning. But being Sir Mo would be amazing.”

The runner is the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals after his victory in the 5,000m and 10,000m in both London and Rio.

British athletes were treated to a flurry of honours after London 2012 and calls have been growing for this year’s champions – who won a total of 67 medals – to make it on to the next honours list.

Mrs May’s spokeswoman added: “In terms of honours, there is an independent process. There is no formal cap on the number of honours that can be awarded.”

Downing Street added that the UK’s medal haul boosted the case for preserving the Union. The performance at Rio, which was also Scotland’s best ever games, “reflect what the union can achieve when we’re all on the same team”, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said.

Tennis star Murray had already been touted as potentially the “most popular Scottish knight since Sir William Wallace” by the SNP’s Alex Salmond before he secured his second Olympic gold.

Boxer Nicola Adams, who already has an MBE, could be due for another honour after she defended her Olympic title, cementing her status as Britain’s most accomplished amateur fighter.

Cycling golden couple Jason Kenny and Laura Trott, who gained more medals than most of the countries competing at the Games, are also tipped for gongs.

Other possibilities for honours could include the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, who finished as top two in the men’s triathlon; goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, who gave a star turn in the women’s hockey Nominations can be made by anyone but names are reviewed by the relevant honours committee and checked by government departments before they are given the seal of approval by the Queen.

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