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Britain’s Most Memorable Olympic Moments
Derek Redmond’s Emotional Finish
Most Olympians are remembered and celebrated for their big wins, but not Derek Redmond. Olympic records state he never finished his 400m race in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, but spectators would tell you otherwise. The runner had suffered a bout of injuries leading up to the Games, and during the semi-final of the 400m, his hamstring snapped. He shrugged off medical attention, hobbling along the track, when his father broke through security and helped him cross the finish line. 65,000 spectators rose to give Redmond an emotional ovation, one of the most poignant moments in Olympic history.
Louis Smith Breaks Brit Gymnastics Curse
After 100 years without a single British gymnast gracing the awards podium, the nation looked to their most promising young athlete, 19-year-old Louis Smith, for an Olympic win. Out of the eight finalists at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Smith had the trickiest pommel horse routine, and big risk paid off. His performance earned him a bronze medal, and he became the first British gymnastics medal winner since 1912.
Rebecca Adlington Makes Waves
British swimmers were going through a bit of a medal drought at the Games, until Rebecca Adlington splashed onto the scene. The 23-year-old made waves at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing when she broke a 19-year-old world record in the 800 meters, a record previously held by Janet Evans. Adlington won gold in both the 800m and the 400m, becoming the British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908.
Superstar Track Cyclist Scores Golden Hat Trick
The 2008 Olympics in Beijing were good to Sir Christopher Hoy (otherwise known as 'The Real McHoy.') The track cyclist stole gold in three events – the men’s keirin, the men’s team spring, and the men’s individual sprint – becoming the first British Olympian in 100 years to claim three golds in one Olympics.
Kelly Holmes Makes a Comeback
Allergies, anaemia, asthma, Epstein Barr, chronic fatigue, ovarian surgery, back pain, pulled hamstrings, stress fractured shins, a torn Achilles tendon, a ruptured calf, a damaged femoral nerve, lliotibial band friction syndrome, and crippling depression… to say the odds were stacked against the veteran runner Kelly Holmes at the 2004 Games in Athens would be a gross understatement. But when the 34-year-old Holmes took Olympic gold in the 800m, her priceless expression sent a message to the world – dedication, courage, and perseverance pay off.
British Boxing Finds a Knockout
At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, British heavyweight boxer Audley Harrison squared off with Mujhtarkhan Dildabekov of Kazakhstan, earning Britain its first Olympic boxing gold since 1968, and it’s first gold ever in the superheavyweight division. After a slow start and two points down in the first minute, Harrison rallied and won by a 30-16 point decision. The match was even more impressive given Harrison’s condition – he fought with an injured left hand. “It’s a shame I had a bad hand,” said Harrison, recalling the match, “or I would have taken him out.”
Redgrave Glides to Five Golds
Sir Steven Redgrave joined an elite group of athletes in 2000 – he became one of only four Olympians to have won a gold medal in five consecutive Olympics. His gold medal win at the Sydney Olympic Games in the coxless four solidified his title as Britain’s greatest Olympian, and in 2011, Redgrave was the recipient of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
Coe v. Ovett: Greatest Olympic Rivalry
When Sebastian Coe and Steven Ovett lined up for the 800m final at the 1980 Moscow Games, it was arguably the most anticipated running race in Olympic history. Alliances were divided – Coe and Ovett both hailed from Britain, and spectators were forced to choose a side. In a shocking upset, Ovett beat the favored Coe, claiming Olympic gold. Days later the duo met again in the 1500m, but this time Coe was ready. The rivals ended the games with one gold medal each.
Bushnell and Burnell: Olympic Odd Couple
Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell paired up just six weeks prior to the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. The duo, thrown together to compete in the double sculls, were by no means the event favorite. But the improbable sculling partners managed to defy all odds, pulling ahead of the field and winning gold by two lengths.
Mary Rand’s World-Record Breaking Leap
24-year-old Mary Rand had some pretty lofty goals for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. “What I would love to do at the Olympics," she told reporters, "would be to win with a world record.” Her 6.76-meter leap in the long jump not only broke the world record, but also earned her the title of first female British athlete to win Olympic gold. Rand went on to become the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.