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Memorable British Olympic Moments

Updated on July 24, 2012
Steve Redgrave
Steve Redgrave

It’s fair to say that Britain have had some fantastic moments in Olympic history and won a lot of events and medals but what are the really memorable moments. Those that can stay with the people who viewed it for a really long time and not just for the day or 2 after it happened.

Not many people around now will have seen the athletes ERIC LIDDELL and HAROLD ABRAHAMS but many will have no doubt heard the tales or seen the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ which is about their story from 1924. Liddell refused to run on a Sunday on religious grounds and lost out on a real chance of a gold medal in the 100 metres and Abrahams won the race but Liddell was to win the 400 metres later.

While not many other of these stories will be turned into a film there is no denying the drama involved in some of them. For instance STEVE REDGRAVE who made his own piece of Olympic history by winning a gold medal in 5 consecutive Olympics in the demanding rowing events between 1984 and 2000 when he was 38 years of age. His main partner in these was MATTHEW PINSENT who himself won 3 golds. Because of them this sport started getting a lot more coverage as each tournament unfolded.

Swimming is another sport that doesn’t get a lot of coverage apart from at Olympic games and occasionally Britain throws up some real stars. Two of the mens few winners have been DAVID WILKIE in 1976 and DUNCAN GOODHEW in 1980 and arguably the woman who has stood out in recent years was REBECCA ADLINGTON who won 2 gold medals in 2008 in Beijing.

Allan Wells Wins 100 Metres

In many other years the performances of Adlington and the swimmers would have made her the top Brit of the games but that year saw the phenomenal success of the cyclists who took a total of 14 medals and won 8 gold. Even though some of them had been having individual success through the years this competition certainly brought quite a few of them into the real limelight. BRADLEY WIGGINS and VICTORIA PENDLETON were just a couple of the shining stars but the real stand out was CHRIS HOY who won 3 golds and from there went on to become sports personality of the year and was knighted shortly afterwards.

Just as Hoy was to be knighted primarily because of his Olympic successes similar was to happen to KELLY HOLMES after the 2004 Olympics when she was made a dame. She was always a very talented runner but seemed to pick up a lot of injuries and at the age of 34 it maybe looked like a big win would pass her by but she was not to be denied achieving a fantastic double of 800 and 1500 metres wins.


Amazingly enough Britain won 2 out of 4 mens 100 metres titles. Something which seems surreal nowadays. LINFORD CHRISTIE won the 100metres in 1992 at the age of 32 but the Brits were starting to be taken seriously as sprinters a few years before through ALLAN WELLS. Amazing to think that this Scotsman would win the 100 metres title in fact just a few years after giving up the long jump and taking up sprinting. Because U.S.A boycotted these Moscow games because Russia had invaded Afghanistan a lot of people said that Wells wouldn’t have won otherwise but he took on and beat all his main rivals over the next few months just to show it was no fluke. He also narrowly missed winning the 200 metres when he was beaten by World record holder Pietro Mennea in the last few metres.

Ovett Beats Coe In 800 Metres Final

One of the main rivalries at this time between British rivals or probably between anybody in the world was between the 2 middle distance runners SEBASTIAN COE and STEVE OVETT. They were the best in the World at this point and rumours at the time suggested that they didn’t really get on at all. It certainly all added to a great atmosphere surrounding them as they both ran in the 800 and 1500 metres. Coe was favourite for the 800 and Ovett the 1500 but a little against form they both won the other race. Coe took a gold and silver while Ovett won a gold and bronze. It’s fair to say that Britain hasn’t seen a rivalry anything like as good since with both men determined to prove they were best in the World.

In 1980 and 1984 DALEY THOMPSON proved himself to be one of Britains all time great athletes when he won 2 consecutive decathlons and along with all of his other tournament successes he dominated this event for almost a decade.

The final event shows how the Olympics can take over and people start to have an interest in sports that they wouldn’t normally watch too closely under normal circumstances. The MENS HOCKEY team were doing well and won some games to qualify through the rounds and the better they were doing the more coverage they would get on TV. This went on and the team made the final and won the tournament against Germany in the final. At this time the players names were starting to become well known. It’s possible that top goalscorer SEAN KERLY seemed to be getting as much coverage as then England football forward Gary Lineker did in the national game. It just showed the strange ingredients that can have people watching certain sports that they might not usually have much time for. Not only watching but really enjoying them.

So this time around what names will emerge to be stars and even what sports will become the surprising talking points of the games.

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